On Wednesday, the annual Google developer conference kicked off, and Google showed a more low-key side. The 2022 Google is more pragmatic and rational, more like Microsoft, a business-focused rival, than a fantasy paradise for tech enthusiasts.
On the face of it, it was done on purpose. A bold vision still exists, but it is still a long way from being realized. Today, professional managers in charge of Google are increasingly focused on squeezing money out of R & D spending over the years.
Brin, founder of Google, used skydiving to show Google glasses.
Google's biggest bet is on artificial intelligence, but at least for now it doesn't mean science fiction will become a reality, it just makes more subtle changes to existing products.
"artificial intelligence is improving our products to make them more useful and accessible, and to provide innovative new features for everyone." GoogleCEO Sandal Pichai (Sundar Pichai) said on Wednesday.
As long as it works.
Google once had a number of "moon landings" that tried to solve major global problems, including self-driving cars, high-altitude Internet balloons, smart cities, delivery drones and so on. Google's investment in these so-called "other bets", regardless of cost, has brought a lot of losses to the company.
But Wednesday's conference lacked an "amazing" moment. Google has repeatedly stressed that its products are "useful". In fact, Google executives used "useful", "helpful" or "useful" more than 50 times in their two-hour keynote speeches, including writing: "useful, necessary" in their marketing campaign for their new hardware products.
Google has unveiled a cheaper Pixel smartphone, a smartwatch with a round screen and a new tablet to be launched next year. Google called it "the most useful tablet in the world".
Mid-range mobile phone Pixel 6a
The biggest applause for the keynote speech came from a new feature of Google documents, whose artificial intelligence algorithm automatically summarizes a long document into a paragraph.
It is unclear how some of Google's other groundbreaking work will eventually lead to the next generation of computing touted by Google, such as language models that better understand natural conversations, or techniques that can break tasks into logically smaller steps.
Evolution, not revolution.
Of course, some new ideas do seem to help. Google showed off a feature called "multiple search" when demonstrating how to continue to improve its search technology, where users can take pictures of a shelf full of chocolates and find the best-rated black chocolate bars without nuts. In another example, Google shows how to find a picture of a particular dish, such as Korean fried noodles, and then search for a nearby restaurant that serves the dish.
Many features are supported by Google's deep technical work over the years through so-called machine learning, image recognition, and natural language understanding. For Google and other big tech giants, this represents an evolution rather than a revolution.
Many companies can build digital services in easier and faster ways than in the past because of shared technologies such as cloud computing and storage, but building underlying infrastructure such as artificial intelligence language models is very expensive and time-consuming. only companies with deep pockets can invest in them.
As Google events usually show, it doesn't take a moment to explain how it makes money. After spending an hour announcing other news, Google raised the topic of advertising, highlighting a new feature called my Advertising Center. It will allow users to require certain brands to post fewer ads or highlight themes on which they want to see more ads. Advertising still accounts for 80 per cent of Google's revenue.
At present, the overall situation of the industry is not good, and technology stocks have fallen sharply. Meta, the parent company of Facebook, has begun to freeze hiring and scale back its metacosmos project. Ride-hailing giant Uber is also cutting costs and hiring cautiously. Judging from this developer conference, Google is not as high-profile as it used to be.