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Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL up close and hands-on

“So you think you know,” Google teased via Twitter in the lead up today’s event. “Tune in tomorrow to see for yourself.” Turns out we were right. We basically knew everything there was to know in the lead up to today’s event, Pixel 3 and otherwise. Honestly there wasn’t really a heck of a lot to keep under wraps here.

At first blush, the Pixel 3 doesn’t feel like a monumental upgrade from its predecessor — a sentiment we had just about this time last year when the company introduced the Pixel 2. For some time now, Google’s insisted that the future of hardware would largely come courtesy of the software things — it’s precisely the sort of sentiment one would expect from a software company like Google.

That’s certainly at play here. Google spent little time talking about the hardware on either of the new handsets, instead focusing on what things like AI and ML can bring to the table on a product like this. Keep in mind, while Google quickly established itself as a premium smartphone maker, Pixel products are what they’ve always been: a showcase for all of the things Android can do in the most ideal conditions.

The new handsets don’t look radically different from the Pixel 2 — in fact, the casual observe would have some trouble distinguishing the two products at first glance. Once again, Google’s devices aren’t the slickest pieces of hardware — that title would likely either go to Apple or Samsung, depending on personal preference.

And as for the Pixel XL — the damn thing is downright massive, really earning its name this time out. Those 6.3 inches truly feel like 6.3 inches. As such, the larger device isn’t for the small of hand or limited of pocket. As initially reported, the larger Pixel has quite the notch this time, in keeping with Google’s embrace of the feature on the latest version of Android.

This is thanks, in no small part to the addition of a second front-facing camera. That brings much wider angle selfie shots to the table — Google fitting spent a fair bit of time talking selfies at today’s event. Welcome to 2018, I guess. It’s a curious choice, given the fact that the company bucked the trend by keeping a single rear-facing lens.

Again, the majority of the the camera features here actually come courtesy of Google’s own artificial intelligence and machine learning, which puts the device in a similar spot as the iPhone XS. The company really rattled through the camera features at the end of the presentation, but the super low light shots and zoom features are standouts I can wait to put through the ringer when we get our review units in the very near future.

I’ll admit that the squeeze for Assistant feature has really grown on me since the days HTC launched it on its own device. Certainly it trump something like Samsung’s devoted Bixby button — and not just because people actually use Google Assistant. It’s clear Assistant is only going to become more and more integral as the company moves forward.

The price is really the thing here. That’s sort of the unspoken truth in all of this. There was a time, not too long ago when $1,000 sounded like an insane amount to pay for a flagship smartphone. Of course, both Apple and Samsung have changed that math considerably, and Google is undercutting the companies at every turn possible.

Sure, $799 and $899 for the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL aren’t exactly cheap, but in the age of the $1,000 flagship, it sounds like a downright deal.

more Google Event 2018 coverage

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Kong launches its fully managed API platform

API platform Kong, which you may remember under its previous name of Mashape, is launching its new Kong Cloud service today. Kong Cloud is the company’s fully managed platform for securing, connecting and orchestrating APIs. Enterprises can deploy it to virtually any major cloud platform, including AWS, Azure and Google Cloud, and Kong will handle all of the daily drudgery of managing it for them. At the core of Kong Cloud is Kong, the company’s open source microservices gateway. The company already offers an enterprise version of Kong under the Kong Enterprise brand, but it’s up to enterprises to manage this version by themselves. “Customers running Kong Enterprise on-prem and self-managed are often running it multi cloud. They are running it from AWS, to Azure, Google Cloud, Pivotal Cloud Foundry or bare metal. It’s all over the place,” Kong co-founder, president and CEO Augusto Marietti told me. “But not all of them have massive engineering organizations, so Kong multi-cloud is our managed version of Kong as a service that can run on any cloud.” With Kong Cloud, the company monitors and manages the service, giving enterprises an end-to-end API platform and developer portal. The company handles updates and all the other operational tasks. In terms of the overall functionality (think governance, security features etc.), this is essentially Kong Enterprise. Indeed, Marietti stressed that the two are meant to beone-to-one compatible, in part because he expects that some companies will use both versions, depending on their teams’ needs. Marietti told me that Kong now has over 85 employees and more than 100 enterprise customers. These include the likes of Zillow, Soulcycle and Expedia. Year-over-year, the company tells me, its booking have grown 9x and the Kong open source tool has now been downloaded over 54 million times. The company rebranded as Kong in October 2017, in part to signify that its ongoing focus would be on microservices in the enterprise and the Kong tool, which it open sourced in 2015. Ahead its rebranding exercise, Mashape/Kong sold off its API marketplace to RapidAPI. The marketplace was the company’s first product — and Kong was in part developed to support it — but in the end, the company decided that its focus was going to be on Kong itself. That move seems to be paying off now, as enterprise are moving to adopt microservices and often need partners to do so. Mashape Open-Sources Its Kong API Management Platform

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