There are two main reasons many Android enthusiasts have gravitated toward Google Pixel phones over the years. The first is probably the phone line’s standout cameras. The second is getting the ‘pure’ Android and Google services experience, free of the bloatware and unnecessary features found on so many other devices.
That’s why Google’s latest Pixel feature drop, which adds a quick-access shortcut to Snapchat, has me scratching my head a little bit. It’s a small, optional feature, but its inclusion seems to go against the whole ethos of the Pixel line — and it makes me worry that it’s just the start of more unnecessary add-ons to come.
Google’s Pixel feature drops are normally a great thing, adding features to older devices rather than simply letting them waste away. And indeed, there are some cool things in this one, such as a feature that enhances the audibility of conversations, more bass controls for the Pixel Buds A-Series, and improvements to Now Playing Song detection.
But Snapchat integration is more of a bad omen than a welcome surprise. Here’s what Google says about the feature in its announcement post:
You can already customize the actions your Pixel takes when you useQuick Tap, from taking a screenshot to playing music. With Quick Tap to Snap, you can access Snapchat directly from your lock screen, making Pixel the fastest phone to make a Snap. Quick Tap to Snap is available to all Pixel 4a with 5G or newer Pixel phones. Plus, starting this month, you’ll be able to add a new Pixel-exclusive Lens – Pixel Face – to your Snaps.
To be fair, we knew the feature was coming — the company announced it back in October. I’ll be honest and say I kind of forgot about it, but that’s probably because it’s not something I think anybody wanted in the first place.
For those not in the know, Quick Tap is a feature that allows you to double-tap on the back of the phone to trigger a shortcut. Current options for Quick Tap include:
- Take a screenshot
- Access the Google Assistant
- Play or pause media
- See recent apps
- Show notifications
- Or opening a specific app
Adding a very Snapchat-specific feature to the mix feels out of place on a Pixel phone. I’d understand it if Google said it also planned to offer similar functionality for other (more popular) apps in the future — like, you know, Instagram or TikTok. It would be cool to have an API that developers could leverage to let you access specific functions within apps using Quick Tap. Heck, I’d even understand it if such a feature were exclusive to one of Google’s own properties, like YouTube.
But the Snapchat exclusivity feels a bit like having your PC pre-loaded with McAffee antivirus. Sure, you don’t have to use it, but why include it in the first place?
I realize this might seem like an overreaction to a small feature you can completely ignore, but I just hope it’s not a sign of things to come. After all the goodwill Google has built up with the excellent hardware in the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro, adding bloatware to the mix goes against everything people loved about the Pixel family’s software.