“You know, the real world is really fabulous! At the conclusion of a two-hour presentation, Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google, could not help throwing – without naming him – a small spade at the boss of Meta (ex-Facebook), Mark Zuckerberg, fascinated by the virtual worlds. In fact, it was mainly the announcements of very real products that marked the Google I / O conference, broadcast Wednesday from the group’s outdoor amphitheater in Mountain View (California).
Organized since 2008, this annual meeting was initially intended for developers of the Google ecosystem, and in particular of the Android operating system. But its opening session looks more and more like an Apple-style high mass, serving to present to the world the latest innovations, the roadmap and the next challenges of the Alphabet subsidiary.
Pixel Watch, facing the Apple Watch
This year, several new products presented at Google I/O came to compete with the Apple brand. Starting with the most anticipated object before the event: the Pixel Watch connected watch. While the Apple Watch has largely dominated this market since its launch in 2015, Google had never dared to confront it directly, contenting itself with providing its Wear OS operating system to third-party manufacturers such as Samsung, Fossil, Casio or TAG Heuer.
Equipped with an all-round touchscreen, the Pixel Watch will integrate sports and health-related functions developed by Fitbit, a pioneer of connected bracelets for fitness that Google bought two years ago for 2.1 billion dollars. . Like the other watches under Wear OS, it will allow contactless payment and provide access to several group services, including Google Maps.
The Pixel Watch should be available “in the fall”, said Rick Osterloh, vice president of products and services, without specifying either the precise date or the price. The watch enriches the Pixel family, which initially designated Google’s high-end smartphones, and which is also available in headphones (Pixel Buds, of which a new version has been presented) and soon in tablets, announced for 2023.
New Wallet for Android
On the phone side, after the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro launched last year, Google presented their entry-level version, the Pixel 6a. Also equipped with the Google Tensor chip, designed to accelerate artificial intelligence calculations, the Pixel 6a will be available at the end of July in the United States. In the fall, Google will also launch the Pixel 7 and 7 Pro, briefly shown on Wednesday.
The fall will also mark the arrival of Android 13, already available in beta version for developers. The conference provided insight into the next version of the world’s most widely used mobile operating system – more than 1 billion Android phones were activated last year, according to Google.
Main novelty: a contactless digital wallet, Google Wallet, which will replace Google Pay and will allow you to board your smartphone with bank cards, but also tickets for shows or public transport, boarding passes and the same identity documents – functions already available on digital wallets from Samsung or Apple.
Google Glass, the return
The conference also highlighted Google’s advances in artificial intelligence, particularly for its original business: Internet searches. “Search should be something you can do anywhere, any way you want, using all of your senses,” said Prabhakar Raghavan, vice president of Google Search, Assistant and Maps. The combination of voice recognition, image or text analysis and real-time translation tools should make it possible to achieve this.
For Sundar Pichai, these different technologies will be at the heart of new augmented reality services. “It’s important to develop it in a way that helps us in real life, and doesn’t take us away from it,” he said. Concluding on the video of a product still in the prototype state: connected glasses displaying the simultaneous translation of a conversation, as if it were the subtitles of a film. Ten years after the first presentation by Sergey Brin of Google Glass, which never managed to reach the general public, the “real world” dear to Sundar Pichai could sign their rebirth.
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