Is Google Your Overly Attached Girlfriend?
The Google Hardware Event 2016 revealed the search giant’s vision of a future in which everything you do will be “Googlified,” and the company will know even more about you. That has some privacy advocates concerned. Here's the scoop...
Google Announces New Hardware
Actually, it was Alphabet, Inc., that did the revealing. The umbrella corporation that is now the parent of Google and a slew of less-known companies unveiled a new smartphone, streaming video device, home digital assistant, WiFi router, and virtual reality headset.
Beneath the hood of these devices are improved image recognition, speech synthesis and translation capabilities. But most important of all, to Alphabet, is Google Assistant, the artificial intelligence that Alphabet is betting will make its hardware indispensable - and enable more complete dossiers on consumers.
“We want to help you get things done in your world, across different places, contexts and situations,” wrote Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google, Inc., in a blog post touting “a personal Google just for you.” He continued, “And that means building the Google Assistant and other amazing software into the hardware that you depend on every day.”
Yes, it’s about increasing your dependence upon Google, so that it is allowed into every aspect of your life from your daily work to what you cook for dinner and when you flush the toilet. To that end, Google is building a fleet of hardware products, incorporating Assistant wherever possible, and collecting data whenever users permit it. All of that data helps sell ads, of course.
The Assistant AI is built into Google’s new Pixel smartphone, designed in-house and sold directly to consumers by Google as well as Verizon. It’s important to note that the Pixel is sold unlocked by Google, so it can be used with a SIM card from AT&T, Sprint, or T-mobile. Unlocked Pixels can even be purchased from Verizon, at an additional cost.
The Pixel Smartphone and Friends
The Pixel starts at $649, and it is loaded with flagship-level features. (It even has a headphone jack, unlike Apple’s new iPhone 7!) Google may have a new market opportunity here, with consumers looking for a high-end Android smartphone that does not spontaneously burst into flames. (Do a search for exploding Samsung Galaxy phones.)
The Pixel even slides into the new, $79 Daydream View virtual reality headset, a lightweight, comfy thing covered with soft micofiber cloth (washability unknown). As best as I can tell, the aptly-named Daydream is ideal for people who want to swing a bat, bowl a strike, pilot a spaceship, cast a fishing line, or play miniature golf -- all while reclining on the spare couch in Mom and Dad's basement.
The $69 Chromecast Ultra streaming dongle includes 4K capability, high dynamic range (HDR) imaging, and Dolby Vision image and video processing for state-of-the-art color, contrast, and brightness. Chromecast Ultra even has an Ethernet port in its power brick, in case you want to hardwire this portable streaming device to a network. The new Chromecast competes with the Roku product line, which I reviewed recently.
The $129 Google Home device goes head-to-head with Amazon Echo to be your personal digital butler. Using the AI power of Google Assistant, this “smart speaker” understands your spoken requests. In response, it can answer questions, play music, or update you on weather, traffic, sports and finance. It also interfaces with IFTTT, the “if this, then that” online service that can get home-automation devices from various vendors to work together.
Google WiFi routers are hockey-puck sized devices that are intended to give every corner of your home a blazing-fast Internet access. One of them costs $129; a three-pack is $299. Google Network Assist software helps optimize and manage your home network, track its performance, and even share passwords easily. (Maybe not a great idea.) It can also pause the Wi-Fi signal to your children’s devices at times you select, like dinnertime or bedtime. (Definitely a great idea.)
All of these Google marvels will start shipping November 4. Of course, you can pre-order them now. But do you want to run into Google everywhere you turn, like the “Overly Attached Girlfriend”? Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 11 Oct 2016
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Is Google Your Overly Attached Girlfriend? (Posted: 11 Oct 2016)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved