Google I/O (Developer Conference) kicked off. As in previous years, artificial intelligence is still the focus of the technology giant. During the two-hour event, Google reviewed the progress of AI algorithms and big data models in the past year and demonstrated the extension based on these breakthroughs. application.
However, in the second half of the conference, Google turned itself into a hardware manufacturer, highlighting 5 hardware devices. In addition to the regular iteration of Pixel phones, it also includes smartwatches that were absent from last year and a new generation of TWS headsets that can provide real-time conversations. Translated AR glasses and a tablet are to be released this fall.
Under the “explosive” update of hardware devices, Android 13 with the halo of the protagonist has completely become a supporting role at this I/O conference.
“Which device is the easiest to use, which device should be used,” said Lisa May, Android Product Manager. Today’s Android system already can be seamlessly compatible with multiple devices, and Android 13 has many upgrades at the multi-device interaction level.
Anyone with a discerning eye can see that this is Google’s reintroduction of the concept of “ecological interconnection” after 2018. Four years ago, Google wanted to break the interactive boundary between tablets and laptops through Pixel Slate and Chromebook but successfully created Two ambiguous products, resulting in the collapse of both product lines.
Today is different from the past. Today’s Google already has a “Fast Pair” framework that supports interoperability services and a very mature “Matter” smart home standard, but in today’s consumer electronics field, ecological interconnection is no longer a trendy concept, even though It seems a bit outdated.
More importantly, the ecological interconnection means that all the data generated in the user’s life is exposed to the manufacturer’s monitoring, so consumers will be extra cautious when choosing a digital ecosystem, which is why this Google I/O conference has repeatedly emphasized data privacy protection. s reason.
And when Google talks about privacy protection, it doesn’t seem to be convincing. As the core link of intelligent interaction, the mobile phone is naturally the top priority of this Google I/O conference.
Considering the Pixel 6/6 Pro are Google’s best-selling phones ever, Google is back with a cheaper version of the Pixel 6A that retains the same design language. The difference is that Google did not continue the previous strategy of reducing the allocation of A-series processors. This phone is equipped with the same self-developed Tensor chip as the flagship phone.
For this chip, the industry has already given evaluations before. It is the work of Samsung Semiconductor’s “custom chip” service. It adopts the same CPU and GPU architecture as Exynos, and the large functional modules such as power management and storage controller are the same. The actual performance is probably slightly higher than the Snapdragon 888 chip.
As a sub-flagship model, the overall quality of the Pixel 6 can only be regarded as passable. However, as a software giant, Google is naturally not interested in competing with terminal manufacturers in hardware stacking. This time, the core focus of Pixel 6A is still native Android 13.
Compared with previous upgrades, Android 13 can only be regarded as a small revision. In terms of UI design and interaction logic, it is not much different from Android 12. However, combined with the progress of the smart home standard “Matter”, Android still leaves users with space for imagination.
The standard interconnects all the different smart home ecosystems through a set of standardized APIs and works with a single Wi-FI network channel.
It should be noted that “Matter” is not unique to Google, it is a common standard for smart homes initiated by the CSA Alliance and supported by industry giants including Apple, Google, Amazon, Huawei, etc. Solve the problems of ecological fragmentation and confusion of standards in the industry.
This means that users can even wake up Google Assistant through Siri and ask Amazon Alexa to play music in the future. Therefore, at this I/O conference, Google made great efforts in hardware products, hoping to build its terminal ecological chain before the implementation of this standard.
To this end, Google also released its first active noise-canceling headphones and confirmed the authenticity of the Pixel Watch. It is worth mentioning that the Pixel Watch, which will be released in the fall, needs to be directly linked to a Google account, which means that Wear OS will not be compatible with the iPhone as before. It can be seen that Google, which emphasizes the open-source of the system, is now obsessed with building itself. closed-loop ecology.
According to the information disclosed by Google, these two products do not have many breakthroughs ahead of the industry, and even many functions are already standard in competing products. But this is not too surprising. After all, it is Google’s normal operation to be one or two generations behind the industry in terms of hardware.
However, Google is Google after all, and it can still bring surprises in product innovation. At this I/O conference, the most important product is the new AR glasses.
By showing the short video, you can see that when the AR glasses are used by the user, the translated text of the conversation will be displayed on the lens in real-time, just like adding subtitles to the real world, which is especially friendly to the hearing impaired.
While Google hasn’t revealed when the glasses will be released, it at least gives us a glimpse of what a full-fledged AR app should look like.
In fact, through this centralized release and display of hardware, it is not difficult to see that, except for the cool AR glasses that are used as a landing application of AI technology, other hardware products are Google’s services to create ecological interconnection, and there are even many of them. A “semi-finished product” that has not yet been released.
Google, which has always been known for its software applications, why is it so impatient with hardware products this time? To answer this question, we have to start with the “Matter” smart home standard mentioned above.
As early as 2019, the Zigbee Alliance, the predecessor of the CSA Alliance, joined Amazon, Google, Apple, and other industry giants to set up a working group called “Connected Home Over IP”, referred to as “CHIP”, but faced with a the complex between old and new standards. When it comes to compatibility issues, the first industry specification standard originally scheduled to be released in 2020 has no surprises.
Two years later, the Zigbee Alliance changed its name to the CSA Alliance, changed the name of “CHIP” to “Matter”, and set a precise time to release this standard in the second half of this year.
Just imagine, if the home appliance company you run now wants to produce a smart electric toothbrush, what you need to consider may not be how to open the market, but how to complete the adaptation work between ios and different Android custom OS, and finally the only The solution is the time-consuming and laborious development of an app.
But with the “Matter” smart home standard, industry chain manufacturers will no longer need to consider these issues, they only need to do a good job of the product itself.
Terminal manufacturers with very mature ecological chains such as Apple and Huawei can also compete on an equal footing in the market with a complete range of intelligent terminal products. But for Google, the only thing it can count on is its Pixel phone, which simply cannot form an effective closed-loop ecological chain.
The biggest significance behind the ecological chain is the huge data of users. Google may never end up making smart home devices such as refrigerators and air conditioners in person, but the huge data recorded by these devices in daily use requires computing centers such as mobile phones and computers to complete statistics and upload them.
In the context of the imminent implementation of the “Matter” smart home standard, if Google insists on developing the ecological chain in the form of binding Google accounts, it is tantamount to cutting itself off from the market, but if the terminal hardware business is given up to others, it means that it is impossible to Realize the collection of user data.
And user data is related to the lifeblood of Google’s business development in recent years – artificial intelligence. No matter how much the algorithm or model is hyped up, AI technology at this stage is inseparable from the support of massive data. If the support of data is lost, Google’s AI application may be difficult to develop.
From this I/O conference, it can be seen that Google’s emphasis on artificial intelligence has far exceeded the main business itself. For example, as the cornerstone of survival, Google has carried out two major upgrades to the search function this time, one of which is The search tool named “Lens” which provides users with the function of taking a picture of an object and finding results locally, which is equivalent to providing a “Ctrl+F” function for the real world.
Another new feature is called “scene exploration”, such as scanning the shelves in the supermarket, and the mobile phone will display reviews and related information for each product. In addition, Google has also upgraded the map interface to an “immersive view”, where users can see the real perspective of any street view in the city.
The upgrade of these revolutionary applications is a good demonstration of Google’s leading position in the AI field, but if high-quality data cannot be obtained promptly, these applications will not be able to complete subsequent updates.
Based on this, Google urgently needs to establish an ecological chain composed of smart terminals in a short time, but how competitive is Google?
There is no doubt that, with the huge user group of GMS services, Google’s hardware equipment may not lack the market, but it is still unrealistic to compete with mature ecological chains such as Apple in a short period.
For example, Google focused on the “Fast Pair” framework this time, which can greatly simplify the setup process between devices and facilitate quick links between terminals under the Google ecological chain. Practically speaking, it is even much inferior to Huawei in terms of functional design. The latter’s multi-screen collaboration and the threshold of “one-touch transfer” are almost as simple as “you can do it”.
What’s more, the reality is that Google’s real competitor is Apple, which is more mature in ecological interconnection.
Some people may have noticed a problem. At this I/O conference, Google mentioned data privacy protection a little too often.
Almost every time a product or application is introduced, Google will come up with a supporting privacy protection scheme. For example, Google has added a new feature called “Look and talk” to the voice assistant, which allows users to wake up simply by looking at the screen of the Nest Hub Max and starting to talk.
Immediately afterward, Google emphasized the security and privacy of this feature. This feature is not turned on by default, and after startup, the assistant will be assisted by AI to confirm whether the user is “looking directly” at the machine, not just looking at the machine. general direction. After startup, the machine will maintain the function of face recognition and voice recognition to ensure that it only provides personal information for the user himself.
For data privacy protection, Google is almost full of “survival BUFFs”, but these are not useless efforts, but are closely related to Google’s strategy of developing ecological interconnection.
Due to the problem of poor cross-ecological compatibility at this stage, users often choose a set of terminal products under the ecological chain to use, but this also means that most of the data generated by the user’s daily life will be uploaded to a company’s server. Therefore, when it comes to the selection of ecological chain applications, most users will be extra cautious from the perspective of privacy protection.
As mentioned above, given the support of massive data for AI business, Google can’t abandon the data entry of terminal products. Therefore, Google emphasizes the current efforts to protect user data.
So how does Google act? In February of this year, Google announced that it plans to follow Apple’s example and launch a “privacy sandbox” to limit cross-app data tracking of Android phones.
The problem is that this plan will be implemented in two years. A reporter from The Wall Street Journal made a very vivid analogy: Google’s so-called “privacy sandbox” plan, like many people’s weight loss plans, is just talk.
Technically speaking, it’s not difficult to prohibit apps from tracking user data, so why didn’t Google follow up in time? Because the company itself is the biggest beneficiary of user data breaches.
Apple last year gave users the option to decide whether to allow app makers to track user data across apps. Unsurprisingly, the vast majority of users opted not to allow apps to track their data. The move hit Facebook and other companies’ ad revenue hard, and an FT report mentioned that because of Apple’s new APP data tracking policy, Facebook’s revenue fell by $9.8 billion, which was only a loss in a few months.
However, digital advertising will not disappear because of this, and a large number of digital advertisers will shift their budgets from the ios platform to the Android platform. Over the past year, Google’s ad revenue has grown by more than 40% to $61.2 billion in revenue. Similarly, the advertising revenue of Android camps such as Samsung, Huawei, and Xiaomi should be comparable.
Behind the surge in advertising revenue of these companies are countless accurate pushes based on user data.
It is worth mentioning that at this I/O conference, Google said that later this year, it will launch a “My Ad Center” feature on Android 13, and users can choose which type of ads to see… …
Although Google has repeatedly emphasized privacy protection, it may be difficult to exchange the trust of users for such a performance of “speaking and being honest”. In such a context, where does Google’s “ecological interconnection” come from?