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From: Glenn Petersen10/4/2017 10:58:09 PM
1 Recommendation   of 14825
 
Google’s New Gadgets Come With a Big Helping of A.I.

By DAISUKE WAKABAYASHI
New York Times
OCT. 4, 2017




Google’s chief executive, Sundar Pichai, spoke about object detection technology during at an event to introduce the company’s new hardware offerings in San Francisco on Wednesday. Credit Stephen Lam/Reuters
_________________________________

SAN FRANCISCO — Google’s unveiling of new smartphones, smart speakers and other gadgets had all the makings of a typical technology product launch: a fawning crowd of superfans, skeptical journalists, slick product videos, not-so-subtle jabs at the competition, and overly romanticized descriptions of design choices, colors and materials.

But one nagging question lingered for Google, which makes nearly all of its money from selling online advertisements: Is it finally serious about making devices?

On Wednesday, Google did its best to demonstrate its commitment. It introduced two new Pixel smartphones, Google Home speakers both small and large, a laptop running the company’s Chrome software, a new virtual reality headset and wireless headphones.

But Google’s pitch for why its hardware is different had little to do with the hardware itself.

Unlike the way an Apple event is conducted — usually chock-full of talk about chip speeds and screen resolutions — Google didn’t spend much time on product specifications. Instead, its focus was on artificial intelligence. Sundar Pichai, Google’s chief executive, spent the first 10 minutes explaining how artificial intelligence was helping Google Maps and its translations.

Mr. Pichai said that as an “A.I. first” company, this is a “unique moment in time” for Google to combine hardware, software and artificial intelligence. “It’s radically rethinking how computing should work,” he said.

Google executives said it has been getting harder to find new hardware breakthroughs like bigger and better screens, but they believe significant improvements will come from artificial intelligence software that is developing at a faster clip than physical components.

Rick Osterloh, Google’s senior vice president of hardware, compared the company’s strategy for building devices to search and email. Google was not the first search engine and Gmail was hardly the first free web-based email provider — but both services reimagined what those products should do.

Last year, the company started its “Made By Google” line of hardware products, headlined by the Pixel smartphone. The handset received positive reviews, but it did not threaten the premium smartphone dominance of Apple or Samsung.

On Wednesday, Google demonstrated how every hardware product had received an A.I. makeover. The Pixel smartphones come with an image-recognition app called Lens that can help users find information just by pointing a camera at a movie poster or an ad. The new “smart speaker” uses artificial intelligence to adjust its sound for the layout of a room. And new wireless headphones allow for instant translation of different languages.

The question of Google’s commitment to hardware is a testament to the challenges of competing against devices made by Apple, Amazon and Samsung. Most other companies have found it hard to turn a profit in that product fight, and a flop can follow a company around for years — both in money and reputation lost.

It is also a recognition of Google’s history of fits and starts with devices. The company once acquired Motorola, only to sell it a few years later to Lenovo. It bought Nest and Dropcam, but the introduction of new products from those home device companies seemed to stagnate after they joined Google, now operating under the parent company, Alphabet.

Whether Google’s device push sticks over the long haul remains to be seen, but its checkbook for hardware is still open.

Last month, Google said it had agreed to acquire a team of 2,000 engineers from the Taiwanese manufacturer HTC for $1.1 billion. The hardware-focused personnel came from an HTC research and development division that was already working with Google to create the Pixel phones. Google said the acquisition will allow it to move faster in its efforts to develop new features for smartphones.

The deal is expected to close, pending regulatory approval, early next year.

Follow Daisuke Wakabayashi on Twitter @daiwaka

A version of this article appears in print on October 5, 2017, on Page B2 of the New York edition with the headline: Google Unveils Phones and Other Gadgets With a Spotlight on A.I

nytimes.com

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From: Savant10/5/2017 10:30:58 AM
   of 14825
 

Alphabet shows off new smartphones, Home speakers and Clips camera for holiday shopping season

Alphabet Inc. introduced new Pixel smartphones, Home smart speakers and a new clip-on camera called Clips at a launch event in San Francisco on Wednesday, as it looks to challenge Apple Inc. and other hardware makers in the holiday shopping season (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/pixel-launch-will-test-google-hardware-strategy-and-apple-rivalry-2017-10-02).

Google (GOOGL) (GOOGL) stressed that its software will be the key difference between its products and competitors from companies like Apple (AAPL) and Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN) Google especially focused on the Google Assistant, its artificial-intelligence-powered voice-controlled service similar to Amazon's Alexa and Apple's Siri.

Here's what you need to know:

New Pixel smartphones (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/google-launches-new-pixel-2-smartphones-2017-10-04): Google introduced two new Pixel smartphones, the Pixel 2 and the Pixel 2 XL. Executives on stage played up the use of Google Assistant, which can be activated by squeezing the phone, and Google Photos capabilities including Lens, as well as virtual- and augmented-reality capabilities. The phones--available in three colors, "Just Black," "Clearly White" and "Kinda Blue"--are available for preorder immediately in the U.S. and five other countries, with the smaller version starting at $649 and the larger version starting at $849; for comparison, Apple's new iPhone 8 starts at $699, the larger iPhone 8 Plus starts at $799, and the iPhone X, when it goes on sale, will start at $999. Alphabet will keep Verizon Communications Inc. as the exclusive wireless-carrier partner for the phone, while also selling the phones at Best Buy Co. Inc. (BBY) stores and unlocked versions through its own online store. Purchases come with a code for a free Google Home Mini speaker and unlimited photo and video storage on Google Photos.

Read also: Everything Apple announced at its iPhone event (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/everything-apple-announced-at-its-iphone-event-2017-09-12)

New Home speakers (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/google-launches-new-home-smart-speakers-including-high-end-apple-rival-2017-10-04): The Google Home Mini is a smaller version of the Google Home speaker that Alphabet began selling last year, and will rival the smaller form factor Amazon has introduced for its Echo speaker, the Echo Dot. Google also introduced a new high-end smart speaker, the Google Home Max, that focused on sound quality for music and could challenge the Sonos series of speakers as well as Apple's HomePod, which launches in December. The Google Home Max will cost $399, $50 more than Apple's HomePod, and come with a free year's subscription to Google's YouTube Red streaming-music service. The Google Home Mini will cost $49 and come in three colors: "chalk," "coral" and "coal." The Google Home Mini will be available in stores Oct. 19, while the Max will offer preorders beginning Nov. 13.

Google Pixel Buds: New wireless headphones from Google are expected to rival Apple's Bluetooth-powered AirPods, but with a key difference that Google demonstrated onstage Tuesday. In a demo, Google showed that the headphones can be used for instant translation for a variety of languages, with the user speaking her native language and an English translation provided from the phone's speakers. Responses in English were picked up by the phone and translated into the native language through the headphones. The Pixel Buds come in the same three colors as the Pixel phone and cost $159; preorders begin immediately and the headphones will be available in November.

Don't miss: Google Finance as you know it is going away -- here is what will remain (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/google-finance-as-you-know-it-is-going-away-here-is-what-will-remain-2017-09-27)

Google Clips: Google showed off a new clip-on camera that can take photo and video remotely and synchronizes what it captures instantly with a connected phone through an app. Google said the camera was launching "soon," and would work with the Pixel, Samsung (005930.SE) S7 and S8 phones as well as iPhone 6 and up. GoPro Inc.(GPRO) stock suffered immediately after Google introduced the camera (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/gopro-stock-falls-as-google-introduces-new-clip-on-camera-2017-10-04), as Clips will be an option for some who would buy GoPro's cameras and will be priced cheaper than the action cameras GoPro sells, at $249.

Pixelbook and Pixelbook Pen: Google showed off a new high-end Chromebook convertible laptop that can also function as a tablet, as well as a stylus called the Pixelbook Pen. The Pixelbook has Intel Corp. i5 and i7 processors and can run Android apps; Google announced that it is working with Snap Inc. (SNAP) on a new version of the Snapchat app that takes advantage of the form factor. The Pixelbook starts at $999 and the Pen costs an additional $99, with preorders starting today.

Daydream View: Google also redesigned the virtual-reality headset that works with the Pixel smartphone, after introducing the original alongside the first Pixel smartphone last year. Google said the new version has better lenses that increase the image clarity and field of vision. The $99 device will come in three colors, "Fog," "Charcoal" and "Coral."

Alphabet stock did not seem affected by the event, after many of the product details leaked early. Class A shares fell 0.5% and Class C shares declined 0.6% on the day. Alphabet's Class A shares have gained 22% this year, outpacing the S&P 500 index , which has gained 13.2% in 2017. The Dow Jones Industrial Average has gained 14.7% in 2017.

-Jeremy C. Owens; 415-439-6400; AskN

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From: JakeStraw10/5/2017 1:29:38 PM
   of 14825
 
The search giant wants you to buy its new phone. The pitch? The Pixel aims to be good at everything Google's good at.
cnet.com

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To: Glenn Petersen who wrote (14802)10/5/2017 1:55:48 PM
From: zzpat
   of 14825
 
Instantaneous translations using earphones is the coolest thing I've ever heard of. Who can't use this device?

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To: zzpat who wrote (14805)10/5/2017 2:23:16 PM
From: Savant
   of 14825
 

"Who can't use this device?"

Umm, Xenophobes?
--------------------------------------
There's a Startup that's been working on earpiece translators for a few yrs now.....scheduled to start shipping 'soon'.

waverlylabs.com
====

And this...from a year ago..Snopes piece
snopes.com

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To: Savant who wrote (14806)10/6/2017 9:36:37 AM
From: zzpat
   of 14825
 
LOL. Fake news is all over the place.

We have to fact check almost everything these days and that's why this is such a good time for republicans. They don't have the capacity to verify what they're reading. Every lie Russia told them during the last campaign forced them to vote for the man Putin wanted.

What shallow pathetic little people.

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To: zzpat who wrote (14807)10/6/2017 12:32:55 PM
From: TimF
   of 14825
 
Are you sure you posted that on the right thread?

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To: TimF who wrote (14808)10/6/2017 3:54:49 PM
From: zzpat
   of 14825
 
Yes, we were talking about earphones that can translate languages. Then there two links from fake news about sources other than Google who said they have this technology.

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From: Savant10/9/2017 11:49:33 AM
1 Recommendation   of 14825
 

In these early days of voice commerce there's still room for two retail giants in the space, experts say

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is not letting Amazon.com Inc. run away with the growing voice-commerce market, jumping on Wednesday's Google device announcement with a $25 discount for users who purchase their device from Wal-Mart, place an order with the retailer and link their Wal-Mart account to Google Express.

According to the latest data from Accenture, 89% of shoppers in 2017 are familiar with Alexa, while 77% are familiar with Google Home. Nearly three-quarters (71%) of shoppers are using or would like to use Alexa, while 68% responded in kind about Google Home.

Experts argue that it's still early days for voice commerce, so even if there has been buzz around Alexa and the Echo products, there is room for others.

See also:Everything Google announced at its Pixel event (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/everything-google-announced-at-its-pixel-event-2017-10-04)

"Owning the home is an emerging strategy," said Kathy Gersch executive vice president of strategy execution and change management at Kotter International, a business management consulting firm.

Amazon (AMZN) used its summertime Prime Day event (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/amazon-is-gearing-up-to-take-the-lead-in-voice-commerce-2017-07-14) to push Alexa-enabled devices, staking its claim on the voice-commerce space. Last week, the e-commerce giant launched a number of new Echo devices (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/amazon-launches-new-echo-and-fire-tv-devices-2017-09-27) at varying price points.

In August, Wal-Mart (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/wal-mart-google-team-up-to-battle-amazon-2017-08-23)(WMT) announced (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/wal-mart-google-team-up-to-battle-amazon-2017-08-23) its voice-shopping partnership with Google (GOOGL). Experts say that the partnership elevates the challenge for Amazon and Alexa.

"The industry has been waiting for sellers and technologists to map out a path to compete with the Amazon juggernaut and the rise of Alexa," said Jennifer Sherman, senior vice president of product and strategy at Kibo, an omnichannel commerce software company. "With this move Wal-Mart has unlocked voice-based commerce on devices that already enjoy greater penetration than the Echo, the smartphone.

Read:Here's why flagship stores for retailers like Apple and Starbucks have become tourist attractions (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/heres-why-flagship-stores-for-retailers-like-apple-and-starbucks-have-become-tourist-attractions-2017-09-18)

"Now, with this new development from Wal-Mart, the question for retailers and brands is how they can make their offering discoverable and differentiate themselves in the rapidly increasing voice-first environment," said Sherman.

Matt Sargent, senior vice president of retail at consulting firm Frank N. Magid Associates, questions whether the Wal-Mart customer would be interested in voice commerce, though he believes Wal-Mart is targeting more than its typical customer.

"Wal-Mart wants to change, doesn't want to serve that same customer base it always has," he said. Acquisitions like Jet.com and Bonobos show that it is trying to change its brand image.

Prathap Dendi, general manager of business performance monitoring and analytics at AppDynamics, an application intelligence company, agrees voice commerce might not be for everyone.

Don't miss:Artificial intelligence will be important this holiday shopping season even if shoppers don't know it (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/artificial-intelligence-will-be-important-this-holiday-shopping-season-even-if-shoppers-dont-know-it-2017-10-05)

Still, he sees some advantages in grocery, an area where Wal-Mart is "King" and already caters to a demographic that has an interest in picking up groceries "on the way home."

"Once you unlock millions of bricks-and-mortar consumers with the omnipresent ability of Google... they can take over," he said.

In this area, Wal-Mart's click-and-collect capabilities could come in handy.

"We know that 78% of consumers have used buy-online-pickup-in-stores (BOPIS) in the past six months, so having that option available right now for Walmart shoppers--especially for grocery products--will be a key differentiator," said Kibo's chief marketing officer Tushar Patel.

Ryne Misso, director of marketing at Market Track, also notes the seemingly speedier decision making at Wal-Mart, which he says is a big takeaway from its Google partnership.

"What we know about Amazon is, despite their size, they tend to be very fast to fill these holes," Misso said, calling that an "underrated element to competing with Amazon."

Also: How Nordstrom is changing the department store game (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/how-nordstrom-is-changing-the-department-store-game-2017-09-14)

"This enables both Google and Wal-Mart to have access to resources that neither had access to standing on their own," he said of the partnership.

Google also has partnerships with other companies including Home Depot Inc. (HD) and Panera Bread Co., which announced Wednesday that members in St. Louis and Silicon Valley can order and pay using Google Assistant.

Wal-Mart shares are up 14.2% for the year so far, while Amazon shares are up 32.4% for the period and Alphabet Inc. shares are up 25.3%. The S&P 500 index has gained 13.7% for 2017 so far and the Dow Jones Industrial Average is up 15.2%.

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From: FUBHO10/9/2017 6:00:59 PM
2 Recommendations   of 14825
 
Google Loon gets OK to help in Puerto Rico
by Monica Alleven Oct 8, 2017 6:47pm
Google's Project Loon will get a chance to show how its network of balloons can provide connectivity to the people of Puerto Rico.

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