Is Google Your Overly Attached Girlfriend?

Category: Gadgets , Hardware

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.”

Google Hardware 2016

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...

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Most recent comments on "Is Google Your Overly Attached Girlfriend?"

Posted by:

11 Oct 2016

Interesting column, but the title and especially the image put my teeth on edge. Try to avoid sexism please! (In my experience, it's more likely to be males who are overly attached. Think stalkers)

Posted by:

11 Oct 2016

People are astounded that I do not have a smartphone or dumb (i.e., cell) phone nor do I have GPS. I'm just an old fuddy-duddy who doesn't really trust Google, etc. (Lissen up Microsoft.) Frankly, I can't afford all the gadgets. Until I got a Gmail account, I wasn't bombarded "night and day" with ads on my computer. Chrome is too "hoggy" of my computer resources to suit me. I try to keep a low profile and avoid Google's "snare" as much as possible. Thanks for the "heads-up".

Posted by:

Roy Clark
11 Oct 2016

“Google's stated mission "to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful",[355] and the means employed to accomplish it, have raised concerns among the company's critics. Much of the criticism pertains to issues that have not yet been addressed by cyber law.”

Hmm - one founder born in Russia.
Just like the old home country?

Posted by:

11 Oct 2016

I tried Chrome a few years ago. Got a couple add-ons at the Play Store, but wasn't satisfied with Chrome's download management. I found a third party download manager I liked and began using it.

A few days later, when I started Chrome I got a pop-up announcing my download manager had been removed for my safety, because it hadn't come from the Play Store.

I found that more than a little invasive, so I uninstalled Chrome and returned to Firefox. Firefox is not the hip, new browser, but at least it isn't Google.

Posted by:

11 Oct 2016

Perhaps the title should be "Your Overly Attached Partner"

Posted by:

11 Oct 2016

I do use Google's Chrome for my web browser. I also have a Gmail account, but it is not my main email account. My Gmail account is used more to opening Google stuff.

It sounds like Google is trying to prepare for the Internet of Things(IOT). I am still not sure about this aspect of the Internet. I am very concerned about the US Congress applying taxes on Internet online purchases. This will definitely ruin many small online "stores."

Posted by:

Jay R
11 Oct 2016

1 “I am the Google, your God, who brought you out of the land of Apple, into the house of Cyberspace. You shall have no other software before Me.
2 “You shall not make for yourself a Window image, or any likeness of anything that is in Microsoft above, or that is in the Amazon beneath. you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Google your God, am a jealous God, hoarding and selling the information of the fathers and the children to the third and fourth generations of those who use Me.

Do I have this right, Bob?

Posted by:

top squirrel
11 Oct 2016

Story about Chrome. Several years ago I downloaded it and while trying to set it up ran into a problem (don't remember what it was). I searched all over the Chrome home page and help links and everywhere else. No dice. Couldn't find a contact us link. Apparently their software did not anticipate the question I had and I could not proceed without the answer. No way to ask a question. Dead end.
So I uninstalled Chrome without ever using it. As soon as I did that, the links appeared: "Oh, please don't uninstall us! We will feel ever so bad. Please tell us why. Huh? Huh? We've worked so hard, tell us why you're throwing us out. Please?"
At least, that's the paraphrase.
I told them it no longer matters if I could get my original question answered. Their very stance that they didn't allow questions determines my course, which is to uninstall their browser and tell them never to darken the door to my computer again.
It's been years. I am not interested in whether they now allow questions. It's such a simple thing, that they didn't include it at e beginning told me all I need to know.
I access music on Youtube and I was astounded when I tracked it down how they have logged all my requests for years. I erased all the history and set it so they will not record any more history. I have a problem with machines (or girlfriends) who insist on breathing down your neck.
One reason I never got a Facebook account. They want your complete date of birth. That's too damn pushy. They wouldn't proceed further without it. There was no contact us link or any way I could ask a question (like why do you ask for something you don't need?). I don't want to connect with anybody who allows me to talk only to their computer program.
I think that's kind of insulting. Anybody else think so?

Posted by:

11 Oct 2016

For any current Chromecast owners out there, you can purchase the aforementioned ethernet adapter power brick separately for $15

Posted by:

Sarah L
11 Oct 2016

Top squirrel, your points are clear. Face book asks for age because it does not want children to have face book accounts below a certain age. That does not stop parents who think their child is ready from lying about the child's year of birth. And it does not stop adults from lying either. The day and month are used to mark your birthday, so everyone can wish you happy birthday. But you can block that too.

I am less and less a fan of face book, except when it is the way I see photos of the new generations being born in my extended family, and some of the older members too. Otherwise it is getting to be a lot of clutter on a screen. The other useful function is a closed face book group moderated and targeted to an interest of mine, family history from a country of one of my ancestors. That group works very well, posts are on topic. Off topic posts are deleted.

Posted by:

11 Oct 2016

Tinfoil hats prevail on these posts.

Posted by:

12 Oct 2016

To BobDeloyd: Hey, what's the worst that could happen?

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