🎶 Google updates each business arm; AI, AR at I/O 🎶

It’s to the tune of “Old MacDonald” … Do not sing until Monday!

🎶 Google updates each business arm; AI, AR at I/O 🎶

We often gloss over Google’s accomplishments here at DNRUM HQ (📍: Boothsburg on 16), maybe as they never could quite figure out social (RIP +). However, the company we’re never sure if we’re supposed to call Alphabet now has its hands in pretty much everything else* so let’s take a look at what it announced at I/O.

Devices

Google offers its own answer to the iPhone, the Pixel, and it’s working on getting them into the hands of more users by offering a cheaper, pared down version. It’s also integrated the Nest branding to its Home Hub, its flagship smart home device, as well as… pretty much everything else smart home-related. Nest, which Google acquired in 2014, has a near-Xerox synonymy with smart thermostats and other implements, so it could be a good sign.

OR IS IT?!?

Software

Along with the wider industry, Google has been leaning heavily into augmented reality. This week, its Lens technology – which uses your phone’s camera to interact with real-world items – got some new tricks. These include reading signs aloud when scanned – and translating them if necessary – as well as highlighting popular restaurant items when scanning a menu. It also help split a bill and calculate tips. (Now, if it can only remember who had what, and how many, and how to sort out cash vs. card, and … )

Sadly, while AR will be integrating with Google Maps, the lovely fox shown in the demo previously will not be present. Something about getting the “experience right between a helpful AR character and a person”. …Have they seen if Clippy is available?

It’s also tightened up its voice assistant game by cutting back tremendously on the bulk of the tech powering it. Now able to fit on a phone itself, the new Google Assistant promises to be significantly faster.

Android got a ton of updates as well, including focuses on privacy, a “Focus Mode” banishing distracting apps, plus a very on-trend Dark Mode. It’s also embracing Androidyny with gender-fluid emoji.

Also, since I mentioned in the headline, Google’s AI Duplex feature – which enabled resolutions to simple customer service calls – will be rolled out to search results.

Gotta catch ‘em all? Well, here’s Google’s list of 100 announcements at the conference.

*and yeah OK YouTube is more or less a social network

Chris Hughes’ Facebook Breakup Letter TL;DR

We saw it, we skimmed it, we tweeted it… but who’s really got the time to fully read it?!

Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes dropped an op-ed piece in the New York Times this week and boy was it … quite a long boi.

Ex: Un Longboi

TL;DR – Hughes argues that, while big Zuck is a “good, kind person”, he – and not just Facebook – holds too much control over the conversations of billions. As is the case with many op-eds, Hughes’ critique has many points worth considering. For example, it might be worth examining whether one person should hold a 60% majority stake of a company overseeing platforms with a total of 6.2 billion (not unique but still, c’mon) monthly active users.

Spinning out Instagram and WhatsApp sounds gloriously simple as well, but it – uh – totally wouldn’t be.

Facebook representative – and former UK deputy prime minister for those keeping score at home – Nick Clegg, essentially responded that the company shouldn’t be punished for being successful. Rather, that Facebook has been welcoming and working on government oversight to ensure accountability. (COO Sheryl Sandberg was even in Washington this week for discussions even.)

Hughes acknowledges this in his writing, but says it does not go far enough, stating that even a failed break-up would shake up the tech sector enough to keep major players – and not just Facebook – on their best behavior.

Will this go down? Prrrrrobably not any time soon.

Odds + The End

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