On October 4th, Google held a summit in Silicon Valley which live streamed all over the world. It was here, after months of merely hinting at new technology and creating hype through cryptic advertisements, that Google officially released a whole host of new hardware. Although, perhaps new isn’t exactly the right word.
In the modern digital era, completely ground-breaking, earth-shattering newness is often hard to come by. On Tuesday, Google announced their own versions of gadgets that have mostly been done before. What that hopefully means, is that Google has done them better.
It all hinges on the new Google Assistant: the artificial intelligence interface that has been integrated into much of the new Google technology presented on Tuesday. The company is calling the new assistant your own personal Google. And though it doesn’t bear a woman’s name like Siri or Alexa, it offers all the features – and maybe more – of its rivals from the likes of Apple and Amazon. Checking the weather, making restaurant recommendations, and reminding you of your meetings – you’re used to your phone doing all these things for you. However, the Google Assistant claims to be able to do even more like book you a table or play music through your home speakers. It should also work seamlessly across and in apps, like your messages, and across devices as well.
So, the Google assistant isn’t really anything new. And people got really excited about Siri when she first came on the scene. Now, most of us only address Siri when she’s popped up on our phones un-invited. So what the new Google range really hinges on is whether or not it works. Google Assistant claims to get to know you and your devices better over time. It also has, arguably, the world’s biggest enclave of information behind it – namely, Google’s search engine data.
Many of us heard about the new made-by-Google phone, Pixel, which will include this new assistant built-in, but along with it Google has announced gadgets for Wi-Fi, home, and virtual reality. Google Home is the personal assistant technology of your mobile integrated into your home systems. Think: turning off lights, turning on music, and answering any question you have without lifting a finger. Google Home comes years after a similar device by Amazon: a fact which has not gone unnoticed by critics. Again, we can only hope that this time lapse has come because Google developers have been holed away creating devices that will deliver sustainable performance.
As for Pixel, its design (and the new advertisement for it) bear striking similarities to its Apple rival. If the Google assistant it alluring though, this is the only phone that offers it. In addition, Google has pre-loaded the phone with new apps for messaging and video chatting called Allo and Duo, respectively. These apps are, you guessed it, made by Google. As with the rest of the new releases from Google, Pixel may be exactly what even Android-skeptic mobile phone users are looking for: that is, exactly what they have in their iPhones, just better.
The truest test for these new devices and systems from Google will be how they perform and for that, only time will tell.
Words by Ashley Cusick