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Taking the AI to Consumers
The Google Pixel 8 Pro is a much bigger deal than you think
Disclaimer: I am not speaking as a Google employee. Everything written below reflects my own opinion and contains only publicly available information.
I say it frequently and I’ll say it again: AI advancements are awesome, but what’s equally as important is getting them into the hands of consumers. Just last week I wrote about how all the headlines are about OpenAI or other major players advancing their research and not about the companies applying that research to problems facing consumers.
This is where the most recent Google event really shines. As both a large player in AI research and a tech company with a large consumer technology division, Google is perfectly placed to bring AI to consumers. At their event, they showed how they’re capitalizing on this position and how all of us can benefit from it.
Just like we did for the most recent Apple event, let’s break down the important takeaways from MadeByGoogle—but instead of focusing on the products specifically, let’s focus on what the new features mean for the advancement of technology.
Calling For You
When someone thinks of a personal assistant, the first task they think of the assistant doing is taking mundane calls for you. Since Siri was introduced in 2011, this has been a feature we’ve all been waiting for and Google has finally cracked the case.
Google showcased AI taking a call for a user. The AI was able to intercept a suspected spam call, query the caller for the purpose of their call, and pass it on to the callee as a summary to let them decide whether to pick up or not. About 5 years ago, Google demoed the Google Assistant booking a salon appointment for a user. Both of these tasks required the AI model to understand human interaction in real time and respond while sounding like a human. Imagine a world where our phones can take calls for us.
Bard Meets the Google Assistant
Just a quick Google search shows the demand for a virtual assistant like ChatGPT on a phone. That’s what Google has done with their chat assistant, Bard. It’s the equivalent of having ChatGPT as your virtual assistant on your phone and giving it access to your calendar, messages, documents, maps, emails, etc., plus the context of whatever you’re browsing. Google’s examples of what you can do include summarizing a webpage, creating a social media post based on the photo on your screen, and even planning trips for you.
You might think this isn’t a big deal since ChatGPT and Bard are already accessible to users, but non-techies won’t seek them out on their own. Putting them directly on a person’s smartphone is a game changer.
Putting Generative AI to Work
The hype behind generative AI is real, but up until now generative AI seems to be stuck in a prompt-and-output model for the general public. While powerful in its own right, it barely scratches the surface of how generative AI can impact us. Google demoed new features that take generative AI beyond what consumers are used to:
Best Take: You can now take multiple photos of a memory and AI will allow you to select the ideal face of each person in those photos and mesh them together into one perfect photo. No more ruining photos with a blink.
Magic Editor: Uses AI to more accurately represent a memory via a photo. The examples given were removing objects from a photo, moving a subject in that photo closer to the others, and adjusting the color of the sky. Generative AI fills in the gaps to make the photo look like it was taken that way.
7 years of software updates
Google dropped a historical announcement: they are committed to supporting the Pixel 8 lineup with 7 years of Android software updates: the longest of any Android phone. This means your Pixel 8 can potentially last until 2030. For context, Pixel 7s only have updates guaranteed for 4 years. This is a huge deal because it means Google is devoted to making Android a major player going forward.
It’s no secret Android phones have struggled to grab consumers the same way the iPhone has. iPhones have supported 7 years of software updates for a long time. iPhones have also had a centralized push to make the phone, ecosystem, and even accessories the best they can be. Android has had many fragmented, lesser pushes from competitors. While this created a more diverse Android marketplace, it created a lack of refinement in the Android ecosystem. As the owner of Android, this was a push Google needed to make and it seems like they’re finally doing it.
Let me know what you think
Let me know if I’m showing my bias as a Google employee, but I think these features mean a great deal for consumers. I’m super excited to see life-changing productivity features being made accessible to everyone.
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