Google announced several new products at Google I/O 2022, such as the Google Pixel 6a, the Google Pixel Buds Pro, and new renders of the Google Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro. The company also announced its first-ever smartwatch, the Google Pixel Watch, and teased its upcoming Pixel tablet, which will arrive sometime next year.
The company also showed off other updates that it plans to roll out to services like Google Maps, Google Suit, Android 13, and others, and also showed off a new prototype that could remove the language barriers and allow everyone to speak and understand all languages effectively.
Before we go any further, I strongly recommend you watch the video that Google uploaded to YouTube, shown below. It shows how the Google AR glasses could look and function and how easy it could make to understand other languages. The video demonstrates the unique ways it could bring a transcription and translation to your line of sight with simple, smart glasses.
Before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s take a step back and remember that this is ultimately just a project and a prototype, and it might never see the light of day. It’s also worth noting that this isn’t the first time Google experimented with and showed off such a feature, as the original Google Pixel Buds earphones announced back in 2017 had a similar feature. It would allow listeners to hear real-time translations of their language, but it wasn’t as smooth and fluent as many thought, and it never turned into a product that was widely used, or even recommended when going abroad.
Then again, there’s Google’s Project Glass, which was later turned out to be a project and a product way ahead of its time. The product was later canceled and removed from the shelves and developers. It’s currently under development, but it’s mainly only used by enterprises to make hands-free tasks, such as having a conversation on Google Meet. The Google Glasses project was supposed to look something like this, but we never got anywhere close to that concept.
How is Google AR glass different from Project Glass?
It’s not an easy question, and it’s hard to answer due to the lack of information that we have about the Google AR glasses. We know that it’s intended to be used by everyday people to help communicate in different languages. It’s currently unclear if the glasses would have any other smart functionalities, but we imagine it would have at least Google Assistant built-in, and it could connect to a smartphone or the cloud to save transcripts, conversations, and translations.
It also appears that the glasses have some form of a display or a projector that shows the translated content displayed on the glasses. This could also be used to show navigation information, search results, and many other things that Google dreamed of doing with Project Glass back in 2012 and earlier.
The main differentiator between the newly demonstrated AR glasses and Project Glasses is that the new AR glasses are only trying to be a good translator at the moment. It could be that Google wants to aim it as an essential tool for family members and travelers to help them communicate more effectively. But, it’s also a good challenge, a very hard one to be more precise. Translating words is fairly easy, and even a cheap dictionary will do the job, but translating long paragraphs, understanding different dialects, and doing all of the processing in real-time is an extremely difficult task, even for a company like Google.
Google Translate is far more usable today than it was 10 years ago, and I’m speaking from experience as someone whose first language isn’t English. Back in 2010, Google Translate could not be trusted to translate official documents from banks and companies, but it does that exceptionally well today. I can easily translate any photo, webpage, and even images in under 15 seconds and get results that are understandable and make sense. They’re not always correct, but thanks to AI advancements and the community, the results are much better.
The new concept makes me really excited. I would love to give these glasses to my family and friends to help communicate in different languages, removing the need to use our mobile phones to translate content manually. I hope this makes it into a final product someday, and I can’t wait to test it out in the future. I’m also really excited as this will hopefully bring even more competition, demanding companies to compete with each other and make a better and more appealing product.
Google TV Gets Its Profiles
Google TV, the slick TV-focused operating system skin from Google that runs on its cute little Chromecast with Google TV dongle, is getting profiles this week. You may be thinking that sounds familiar, and well yeah, that’s because profiles were announced in October of last year. They are really here this time, though, we think.
In October, because Google told us to expect profiles “soon,” we explained them this way and told you how setup would work:
With profiles on Google TV, Google is giving each person recommendations based on interests and preferences, access to an individual watchlist, and recommendation help from Google Assistant, again, based on your personalized tastes. So going forward, when you fire up that little baby Google TV remote, you’ll be able to choose your own account to get to watching.
To setup a new profile, you should be able to swipe over to your account icon (top right), and then add another account, just like you would if you were trying to add a kid profile.
Fun! So when exactly can you get profiles up and running? Google would only commit to begin rolling out today, with rollout taking place to all users “over the next few weeks.” You may see the option today or it may be weeks out. Either way, rollout has apparently started.
Galaxy Watch 4 Owners, Google Assistant Arrives
Samsung and Google took their time, but Google Assistant is now available on the Galaxy Watch 4 series (So much for this summer?). After almost a year of waiting, Google Assistant arrives as an app that can be installed on either Watch 4 model to then be accessed as a voice assistant from the wrist.
The introduction of Google Assistant after all this time does not mean that Samsung’s Bixby is going anywhere. Instead, the two companies are talking about how you will be able to access both Bixby and Google Assistant.
Using Google Assistant from a Galaxy Watch 4 means getting help with on-the-go questions and “access to fast, more natural voice interactions,” according to Samsung. Let’s just hope it works more seamlessly as a stand-alone app than it does on all of the other non-Samsung Wear OS watches who have had pretty lackluster Assistant experiences over the years.
As far as availability, rollout begins today in 10 markets: Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Japan, Taiwan, Korea, The UK and USA.
At the time of this post, we still aren’t seeing Assistant available to our Galaxy Watch 4 units. Once it shows up and we have a better understanding of how to get it up and running, we’ll share those details. Verizon slipped a month ago and showed a potential setup guide, which you can still view here.
Google Play Store Gets a Massive Design Update
Making a stop through Google Play’s web store this morning on my commute presented me with quite the surprise. Look at this new web layout!
Google Play, for those who haven’t visited the web experience in some time, hasn’t been properly updated in more years than I keep track of. It is as dated as a web experience can get from a company as large as Google and who typically tries to push design ideas across the tech landscape. It has needed an overhaul for a while.
In the new layout, we’re getting a lot of white and empty space when expanded onto a large screen. The experience now starts on a “Games” tab like the Play Store on your phone or tablet, with categories at the top for “Apps,” “Movies & TV,” “Books,” and “Kids” next to it. There are quick controls to switch between phones, tablets, TVs, and Chromebooks as well, and you have to wonder if a Watch option might be there soon enough.
Once you navigate to an app or game listing, there’s more white, but also a modernized look. App icons are now a borderline squircle with shadow, instead of just a box because the app developer only made a square logo. You don’t have to scroll much to see similar apps or to contact the developer, plus the “Install” button is much more prominent. The actual install pop-up, where you select a device, is still the old UI for now.
Maybe most importantly, the recently “Updated on” date isn’t buried at the bottom of the listing and is now just below the app’s description. Now, when you find an app and wonder if it’s an outdated mess or properly maintained before installing it, you won’t have to dig very far.
Should you need to access your library, payments and subscriptions, activity, offers, Play Points, Family settings, etc., you’ll do so by clicking on your profile button in the top right. This matches up to most of Google’s apps at this point and should be a familiar place to look for most of you.
Overall, I’d consider this a clean simplification of an outdated layout. Gone is the sidebar that weirdly pushed you to “Entertainment” for years; in is a straight-forward, online app store that would rather you find games over movies.
To access this, Google likely has to have pushed it to your account. The current default URL for it is play.google.com/store/games. My personal Gmail account is seeing it, while my GSuite account unsurprisingly isn’t.
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