mobile first to AI first

Google has today announced its new Pixel smartphones. In a departure from its previous Nexus program, where the devices are built in collaboration with a major OEM, the new Pixel range is designed solely by Google under its “Made by Google” branding. According to Google the search giant foresees a new future not based around the web or mobile, but centered on AI. The latest iteration of that AI is the Google Assistant, as first seen in the Allo app.

“We want to build hardware that helps you get things done in your world, without worrying about the underlying technology,” tweeted Google during the launch event.

The Pixel event was hosted by Sundar Pichai, the CEO of Google, however after a short introduction about Google’s work in AI and the new Google Assistant, Sundar handed over to Rick Osterloh the head of the new Google hardware group. Sundar’s lead-up to Rick’s segment was on AI, the new Assistant and how it will be available in new hardware like the Pixel smartphones.

The next big innovation is going to take place at the intersection of hardware and software, with AI at the center.

So why is Google building hardware? Basically because Google wants to make products where it has control over the hardware and the software. Traditionally Google releases the source code for Android to the public, plus it works with its OEM partners like Samsung, LG and Huawei to build a common platform while allowing each OEM to distinguish its offering. Now Google is taking a leaf from Apple’s playbook and is building both the hardware and the software.

“The next big innovation is going to take place at the intersection of hardware and software, with AI at the center,” said Osterloh during the event. He went on to add that doing the hardware and software allows Google to take full advantage of capabilities like the Google Assistant.

pixel phone by Google

One of the main features of the Pixel smartphones is not just the impressive hardware specs or the camera, but they are the first smartphones with Google’s Assistant built-in. Rick also mentioned that Google is developing hardware “for the long run.” Meaning that the Pixel isn’t just a one-off anomaly, it is a new direction for Google, with AI as the driving force.

“What really makes the Pixel come to life is how the hardware and software work together,” said Osterloh.

What do you think about Google’s hardware and AI plans? Please let me know in the comments below.