When Google launched as a search service in September 1998, not many people bet on them becoming such a behemoth they are now. The Silicon Valley company now makes hardware, exceptional phone software, useful online tools and so much more. And oh, in case you didn’t know, their parent company is now called Alphabet.
However, the world waits for Google to launch their new Android OS every year. For the past few years, we have also waited for Google to launch their new phones – initially the Nexus phones and now the Pixel. Google has positioned the Pixel lineup to be a premium smartphone experience for users. Last night, the search giant launched the all-new Pixel 2, Pixel 2 XL, Home Mini, Home Max, Pixelbook, Pixel Buds, Google Clips and a new Daydream View.
Here’s how we think Google will be shaping the future to come with the announcements from last night.
1. AI & ML
Google has never approached Artificial Intelligence (AI) & Machine Learning (ML) like other tech companies in the valley. They have tried to leverage the intelligence acquired by their tools to be truly useful to the end-user. Whether it is on Google Photos, Maps or other products that they make, it is not another ‘good to have’ feature, but a delightfully amazing one.
The same approach was clearly visible in their presentations. Right from the way they are thinking about solving parking space issues, to the fact that their software recognises street numbers and house numbers. Google is solving real-world problems with AI and continually improving it with ML.
Another cool implementation of these was the use of the Google Lens feature in the Pixel phones. Users can tap the Lens button from the Google Assistant app at an object with the camera pointed at it. AI & ML will recognise the object and give the user useful information and links that it finds from the internet. Imagine looking at a new flower and simply pointing your camera at it to know what it’s called and also get more information about it.
2. Hardware galore
The phrase ‘Made by Google’ was used throughout the event as Google took bold strides while showcasing their own hardware. They have been making Android OS for years now and even their Nexus partnership was with OEMs who were already making smartphones. Pixel, however, is hardware designed by Google and made by them. Well, almost.
The Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL are this year’s flagship devices from Google. While taking a few (not-so-subtle) digs at Apple, the two devices were highlighted as being powered with the same features but in different sizes. The smaller Pixel 2 has a 5-inch 1080p display with a regular 16:9 aspect ratio. The bigger Pixel 2 XL has a whopping 6-inch POLED display with a taller 18:9 aspect ratio. And while on the surface the 2 phones share similar specs, they also will attract similar ire for a few things.
Firstly, both phones are now water resistant with an IP 67 rating. Also, they both get front-facing stereo speakers. However, the headphone jack gets omitted in the process and there probably won’t be a standard USB-C headphone bundled with the Pixels. Moreover, the costs of the Pixel 2 and 2 XL are a tough pill to swallow. Which was also the case with the $999 priced Pixelbook. Running on Chrome OS with the ability to run Android apps too, the Pixelbook is a metal bodied high-end Chromebook which seems to be an aspirational product more than a utilitarian one. Oh, and it comes with a $99 stylus too, which has its own set of nice features.
Also announced during the event were Pixel Buds. These are not only Bluetooth earphones which can seamlessly work with the Google Assistant but they can also help you have an entire conversation with someone who doesn’t speak your language, thanks to the AI & ML expertise of Google.
3. Clips: Google Glass redux?
Do you remember Google Glass? Well, it seems like the folks at Google are doing their best to hold onto its memory. They have not only worked on new hardware, in the form of Google Clips but also introduced new software that can help you know more about the subject you are taking a picture of.
The Clips product seems to be marketed only to parents and pet owners, however, it feels a bit creepy to think that just about anybody can use this tiny piece of hardware to record you.
4. Google everywhere?
All in all, it was a night which made one thing clear. Google wants to leverage AI & ML in a big way and they want to pioneer technology that other global brands cannot compete with. So far, they have helped us search for things online, find routes to our destinations, translate things in foreign languages and much more. But with the brilliance of AI and the persistence of ML, they seem to be heading in a direction where few other global brands have the courage to go.
Google now wants to dominate every aspect of our digital lives, whether it is via smartphone computing, ambient computing or any other type of computing. They have been trendsetters for the past couple of decades and their latest event only highlighted their ambitions for the future.
We will keep a close eye on how these products shape up our lives in the future but we’re pretty certain that they will all be pathbreaking in their own right.