2231 hrs: Though it was not as grand an outing as Apple’s iOS launch last month, the Google launch event showcased some real advantages for users with its emphasis on Artificial Intelligence (AI) and ‘smart’-ening users’ lives with their phones and at their homes. Two major realms of an individual’s life.Feel like Google really tried hard to stick it on Apple’s face with its headphone jack. By routing the products through Verizon, Google may have alienated many potential buyers, though. G Suite sounds homely, somehow.
No word on the Andromeda OS, or the Nougat 7.1, as Google drew its focus on AI at the intersection of smart hardware and software. Information is the most valuable commodity in an information age, and Google has oodles of it after years of being a search engine. Now it’s putting it all to good use to develop its machine-learning capabilities for AI.
Google Pixel looks great, and seems affordable. The event also added a bit more meat to what we know about the Daydream Virtual Reality headset, and took us through Chromecast Ultra, Google Wi-fi, Google Home, and Actions on Google.
2320 hrs: Actions on Google will be an open-development platform that will “let ANYONE build for Google Assistant”, and will launch early December. So, this is the ultimate move in outsourcing — with Google acting as a conversational middleman between the user and service providers. Brilliant. Oh, and hello, bots.
2315 hrs: Google Home is available in retail stores from November 4, 2016, and will be priced at $129. The lower-half fabric comes in three colours — mango, marine and violet; in metal: carbon, snow and copper.
2310 hrs: Google Assistant is context-aware. If you have multiple Google Home devices parked across the rooms your house, the one that hears you best will respond.
2307 hrs: Voicecasting is a great thing for a personalised home device. I’ll give Google that.
2301 hrs: Google has partnered with Nest, Samsung’s SmartThings, Philips Hue and IFTTI for its smart Home devices. All this is really cool stuff, truly. But the event is missing only one thing — the cricket chirping into the silence. very little pizzazz at this event. Apple’s was way more popping.
2300 hrs: Using Google Myday, you can plan out your entire day with a sonorous daily briefing from Google Assistant. It’s one assistant across all devices. It can even play a digital arbiter, and help you decide life implacable dilemmas with a coin toss.
2258 hrs: You can even take Google Home to a backpacking trip and make use of its traffic information. Ask Google Home for where to find camping gear, for instance, or how to order beer in the local language. Ditch that sherpa, you’re good to go.
2253 hrs: Google is able to infer “the name of the song by Shakira in the movie Zootopia”. Great for music buffs who have too many tracks to remember. Google, you really are the smartest.
2247 hrs: The speakers on this thing are something else. It contains “a forward-facing high excursion active driver with dual side-facing passive radiators that delivers a full-range natural-sounding experience with rich bass and clear highs”.
2245 hrs: And this is really big. Google Home can actually discern voice commands in a noisy environment and across the room. Kudos, machine-learning, for making the human race just a little lazier.
2240 hrs: The top surface of the gnome-like device (that’s another household thing this contraption reminds you of) is both voice-responsive as well as a “capacitive touch panel”, that you can use your finger to adjust controls like volume, pause-play and even summon Google Assistant.
2238 hrs: With Google Home, you can “Enjoy your Music, Get answers from Google, Manage Everyday Tasks, and Control devices at Home”. Its design was inspired from household products like “wine-glasses and candles”. Yup, that’s exactly what the device looks like.
2227 hrs: Google has now sold more than 30 million Chromecast devices. Chromecast Ultra has “even crisper picture and better performance”. It will support 4K, HDR and Dolby Vision and come with an Ethernet Port. Also, Google will be rolling out 4K content, supported on Chromecast Ultra, in November. There’s something to look forward to.
2220 hrs: And now, Google for the Home. Google Wi-fi will be available for pre-order in November, and ready to ship in December.
2218 hrs: The Daydream VR will be available at $79. It is a soft, lightweight headband that comes in snow, slate and crimson colours, works with Pixel, and gives you “incredible experiences that take you virtually anywhere” with a smart controller.
2315 hrs: 64-bit Quadcore processor, 4GB RAM, Amoled display, 12.3MP camera (among the best today), Fingerprint sensor, Android Nougat… and, of course, Google Assistant. And that is Google Pixel. It will be available for pre-booking from October 13, 2016 at a price of $649. Or Rs. 57,000.2213 hrs: Rakowski asks the VA to “Ok Google. Show me upcoming events at the Greek Theatre in Berkley”. And the Assistant responds with a slew of events and artists to look forward to. Pretty helpful, I say. Someone give the smart assistant a treat.
2209 hrs: “Round icons, polished look, apps just a swipe away”. Yup. The home screen looks pretty good, so far.
2205 hrs: Now, Android VP Brian Rrakowski comes on to talk about five awesome things about Google, the intersection of AI, Photography, Storage, Connectivity, and Mobile Virtual Reality.
2154 hrs: “The next big development is going to take place at the intersection between hardware and software — with AI at the centre,” says Osterloh. Google’s efforts in AI will help it deliver the “simple, smart and fast experiences its users expect”. The Virtual Assistant will be built-in in Pixel.
2150 hrs: Rick Osterloh, head of Google’s hardware group, says “building hardware is — well — hard.” Something tell me this segment of the event is going to be quite short.
2148 hrs: Google is looking at AI in two major areas of our life: our phones and our homes. Hey, that rhymes. Sort of.
2145 hrs: These advances will allow the Virtual Assistant to differentiate “German from Swiss German”, and allow the VA to take on a personality that is tailored to each individual user, says Mr. Pichai. The assistant will get better with progress in Machine-learning and AI.
2141 hrs: Machine-learning is going to be at the forefront of Google’s AI push, with inputs from its DeepMind project. Text-to-speech is getting better, thanks to advances in WaveNet, a ‘deep generative model of raw audio waveforms’. This allows the software to detect phrases and sentences at a rawer level, and generate a much more accurate message.
2137 hrs: “Our natural language processing is what makes Google be truly conversational with our users,” says Pichai. And each of its products is being “turbo-charged” with Google’s efforts in AI. Referencing Alpha Go? Well played, Sundar.
2133 hrs: And there it is. Straight from the horse’s mouth. Google is looking to get its foothold in the AI market, as Pichai traces the evolution of tech, and ends with the importance of Artificial Intelligence and the Virtual Assistant.
2131 hrs: And Google CEO Sundar Pichai takes the stage with a staid grey shirt and musty brown corduroy jacket.