Earlier today, Andy Rubin and several executives from Essential hosted an AMA on Reddit to primarily discuss the Essential Phone. Notable highlights from the session include when the Android Oreo update is coming, as well as when the phone will be supported on Verizon, as well as European availability.
Along with Rubin, there were four other executives answering questions from the community:
- Linda Jiang, Essential’s Head of Industrial Design
- Dave Evans, Essential’s VP of Design
- Rebecca Zavin, Essential’s VP of Software
- Joe Tate, Essential’s VP of Hardware
Rubin answered a fair number of questions and again defended the camera hardware, while acknowledging that the processing and algorithms will be improved through software updates. On the availability front, he told Verizon customers that carrier approval could be coming as soon as tomorrow, while Essential is working on launching in Europe.
Camera criticism + future plans
Hi! We are pretty happy with the hardware design of the camera. We are using computational photography to fuse a monochrome and color sensors. That’s the part we’re not too happy about, but luckily it’s software and we’ve already done a number of updates to the app to fix bug and add features. – andyR
Meanwhile, other members of team discussed that Android Oreo could be coming as soon as next month and that they are considering a beta program, like Google does for the Pixel and Nexus. Other topics include support for the ROM community and more software features.
Android Oreo availability + kernels and factory images
We are excited about supporting 3rd party developers. We’ll be releasing our kernel and factory images in the next few days. Android O will be coming in the next month or two. –Rebecca
Yes, but some of our HALs will be passthrough when we release O. We are committed to doing better and better over time, but we also want to get O to you as soon as possible. –Rebecca
You can double tap the power button to launch camera. We are also looking at adding some other good stuff like fingerprint gestures to pull down the notification shade. Keep your eyes out for updates! –Rebecca
On the hardware front, more accessories that take advantage of Essential’s Click connector are coming. The first will be a charging dock, but a “high end audio accessory” with a 3.5mm jack is also in the works. As for what’s coming next hardware-wise, Essential’s Design VP made note of “next-gen products” that have an even more borderless design.
More Click accessories
We are under development on a number of Click Connector accessories. The first available should be the charging dock. We are also actively developing a high end audio accessory to support a 3.5mm jack. We are continuing to look at supporting ideas, like cameras. –Joe
We are planning on having the dock out shortly. Our final prototype build is this month and we will have it available for purchase after we run through reliability testing –Joe
Why the Essential Phone has a chin
The chin on our display is driven by two components: the touch IC drivers and the LEDs for the LCD backlight. We would love to ship a truly borderless display and are working on next-gen products that get us every closer to a seamless device flooded with pixels. – Dave