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Review: Google Pixel hobbled by Android 7.1

Galen Gruman | Nov. 3, 2016
The Pixel is a major step up for Google's Android hardware, but Android 7.1's networking woes overly complicate corporate usage

I tried to sign in via our guest network to complete my setup. The Pixel connected to the Wi-Fi network but could not load the login page (the same kind you might get at an airport or hotel when using Wi-Fi there, aka the captive portal) to actually complete the Wi-Fi connection. Ditto for the Pixel-C tablet, which even displayed an error that the CaptivePortalLogin service was stopped -- clearly, more Android 7.1 nonsense. By contrast, the iPhone and Galaxy S7 both opened the login screen needed to complete the connection. 

I ended up using my iPhone as a hotspot to continue login. I could have used the Verizon SIM that came with the Pixel instead, of course, but I didn't want to shut down the Pixel to insert the SIM. The point remains: You should be able to use corporate Wi-Fi networks to set up and use the Pixel, but you can't.

If that had been the only hassle, I would have been fine. But the Pixel demonstrated more naïveté as I continued to use it. Users and IT admins shouldn't have to put up with the Android 7.1 nonsense in the Google Pixel -- and if they get an iPhone or earlier Android device, they wouldn't have to.

Now that my Pixel smartphone was set up, I tried the guest network again, and this time the login screen did appear. Great! I decided to see if I could join the protected network -- still no luck (I never did get it to work), so I switched back to the guest network. 

For whatever reason, the Pixel needed the username and password reentered for the gest network -- but it wouldn't display the screen to enter those credentials. I had the Pixel forget the guest network and tried several times to reconnect to it before I finally got the prompt that opened the sign-in screen. Since then, I've been properly prompted for the username and password each time I want to reconnect. 

Microsoft Outlook vs. Android 7.1

With the Pixel finally on Wi-Fi and my apps downloaded (I had backed them up from my other Android phone so that Google knew what to install), I tried to set up Microsoft Outlook via the Settings app. That seemed to work, but when I went to Outlook, there was no connection. And Outlook was missing in the Settings app's Accounts page.

I set up Outlook again, this time in the Outlook app, and discovered the issues. One is that Android 7.1 doesn't know how to connect to Office 365 accounts, only on-premises Exchange. I had to dig up my Office 365 settings from my iPhone and manually enter them on the Pixel. The other is that each app for which you set up Exchange access needs your permission for Exchange policies to manage your phone, but Settings doesn't ask for this permission. Thus, you should set up your Exchange accounts individually in each Microsoft app, not in Settings.


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