The Father of Android Unveils Potential Rivals for Apple’s iPhone and Amazon’s Echo
Former Google executive Andy Rubin has finally taken the wraps off his secretive hardware startup, Essential.
Rubin on Tuesday detailed his company’s two new devices: the Essential Phone and Essential Home. The former is a smartphone designed to come with high-end features, but at a more affordable price than other luxury handsets. Essential Home is a smart home device like Amazon’s Echo, providing users control over their smart homes with voice commands.
Rubin became a prominent figure in the mobile world after creating Android, now the world’s most popular mobile operating system by market share. After Alphabet-owned Google (GOOGL) acquired Android in 2005, Rubin served as its senior vice president of mobile and digital content, where he oversaw Android’s development and Google’s broader mobile ambitions. He then spent some time in 2013 working on other Google projects, including robotics, before leaving the company in 2014.
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Since then, Rubin has been working behind the scenes on hardware ventures and is now focusing on Essential.
In a blog post earlier this month, Rubin said that he founded Essential to address problems he sees in the technology industry, including high-priced luxury products and devices that become obsolete after just a year of use. He said he wants to address those and other problems with each product Essential sells.
The Essential Phone has several high-end handset hallmarks, including an edge-to-edge display that measures 5.71 inches. The smartphone, which is running on the latest Qualcomm (QCOM) Snapdragon 835 processor, also comes with dual rear cameras and a titanium body design. Not surprisingly, it’s running on Google’s Android. It costs $699 unlocked, allowing users to run it on the carrier network of their choosing.
Essential Phone, which was initially announced on The Verge, is available now for customers to pre-order, though the company hasn’t said when it’ll begin shipping.
It’s a similar story with the Essential Home, a small, round device sporting a screen that can display a range of information, like search results or upcoming events. The Amazon Echo Show, a new smart home hub slated to launch next month, also comes with a built-in screen. The original Amazon Echo as well as Google Home both lack screens.
Like its competitors, Essential Home is meant to enable users to issue vocal commands to control other tech gadgets around the house. It runs on an operating system called Ambient OS, which will automatically link a new smart home device with Essential Home for simpler set-up.
The smart home device, which isn’t yet available for pre-order, doesn’t have a shipping date—nor a confirmed price.