Generative AI Thread Runs Through Google’s New Products
MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. — The recent Google I/O 2023, edition 16, was as newsy as it’s ever been, and it’s always one of the newsiest IT conferences in the world each year.
A long list of new products and software updates were introduced for both consumer and enterprise markets, including:
- The Pixel 7a, a new mid-range smartphone with a 6.1-inch OLED display, a 12.2MP main camera, and a 12MP ultrawide camera.
- The Pixel Fold, a new foldable smartphone with a 7.6-inch OLED display and a 5.8-inch cover display.
- The Pixel Tablet, a new Android tablet with a 10.3-inch OLED display.
- Updates to Android 13, including new features such as Material You, improved privacy controls, and new gaming features.
- Updates to Google Workspace, including new features such as improved collaboration tools and new AI-powered features.
- Updates to Google Cloud, including new features such as improved performance and security.
- Updates to Google AI, including new research projects and new tools for developers.
AI in All the Company’s Products
The prevailing thread woven through the two-day event was that generative AI is finding a place in virtually all of the company’s products in order to make them more efficient, user-friendly and secure, CEO Sundar Pichai told the Shoreline Amphitheatre audience on a cloudy day in the Bay Area. This follows a general trend in the IT industry.
“We are reimagining all our core products, including Search,” Pichai said. He offered examples of how generative AI is improving other Google products, including Workspace, Gmail, Maps, Photos, and a list of others.
“Looking ahead, we’re making AI helpful for everyone,” Pichai said. “It’s the most profound way we will advance our mission. And we are doing this in four important ways: First, by improving your knowledge and learning and deepening your understanding of the world. Second, by boosting creativity and productivity so you can express yourself and get things done. Third, by enabling developers and businesses to build their own transformative products and services. Finally, by building and deploying AI responsibly, everyone can benefit equally. Our ability to make AI helpful for everyone relies on continuously advancing our foundation models.”
Google has made its new Enterprise Search product available to a limited audience at this time. To get on the waitlist, go to the Google Search Labs homepage, where you will be given the option to sign up.
The new Search combines several standard Google features, including Photos, Maps and product recommendations from vendors and organizations. A use case given as an example involved whether a family of four and their dog would have more fun at Bryce Canyon or Arches national parks on a summer vacation; the Search app brought up photos, videos, maps and recommendations from the National Park Service, for example, so the family could make a decision on child- and dog-friendliness of both locations. It only took a few minutes for the family to decide that while both parks were kid-friendly, there were more options for the dog at Bryce Canyon — so that’s where they went.
Here are more highlights of a busy conference.
- Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE) 1.22: GKE 1.22 is the latest version of Google’s managed Kubernetes service. It includes a number of new features and improvements, such as support for IPv6, enhanced security and improved performance.
- Cloud Spanner 2.1: Cloud Spanner 2.1 is the latest version of Google’s fully managed, mission-critical, relational database service. It includes a number of new features and improvements, such as support for JSON data types, improved performance and updated security.
- Cloud Bigtable 2.0: Cloud Bigtable 2.0 is the latest version of Google’s scalable, durable, and highly available NoSQL database service. It includes a number of new features and improvements, such as support for secondary indexes, improved performance, and enhanced security.
- Cloud Dataproc 2.0: Cloud Dataproc 2.0 is the latest version of Google’s managed Hadoop and Spark service. It includes a number of new features and improvements, such as support for TensorFlow, improved performance, and enhanced security.
- Cloud Dataflow 2.0: Cloud Dataflow 2.0 is the latest version of Google’s fully managed, serverless Apache Beam service. It includes a number of new features and improvements, such as support for streaming data, improved performance, and enhanced security.
- LaMDA: LaMDA is a new language model from Google AI that is capable of generating human-quality text. LaMDA can be used to create a variety of content, including articles, blog posts and even poems.
- PaLM: PaLM is a new AI system that is capable of performing a variety of tasks, including writing different kinds of creative content, translating languages, writing different kinds of creative content and answering questions in an informative way. PaLM is still under development, but Pichai said it has learned to perform many kinds of tasks, including:
- “I will try my best to follow your instructions and complete your requests thoughtfully.”
- “I will use my knowledge to answer your questions in a comprehensive and informative way, even if they are open ended, challenging, or strange.”
- “I will generate different creative text formats of text content, like poems, code, scripts, musical pieces, email, letters, etc. I will try my best to fulfill all your requirements.”
- Imagen: Imagen is a new AI system from Google AI that is capable of generating realistic images from text descriptions. Imagen can be used to create a variety of images, including landscapes, portraits, and even scenes from movies.
- MusicLM: MusicLM is capable of generating a variety of music, including songs, pieces of classical music, and even jazz improvisations, Pichai said.
- Improved spam protection in Google Drive: Spam protection in Google Drive has been improved by adding new filters and machine learning algorithms. This will help to keep your Drive safe from unwanted messages and attachments.
- Greater visibility with additional Google Calendar statuses in Google Chat: You can now see more information about people’s availability in Google Chat. This includes whether they are available, busy, or out of office.
- The ability to quote a previous message in Google Chat: You can now quote a previous message in Google Chat. It is now easier to keep track of conversations and make sure that everyone is on the same page.
- The ability to expand upon Gmail security with BIMI: BIMI (Brand Indicators for Message Identification) is a new standard that allows organizations to display their logos in email messages. This helps to increase email security and to make it easier for users to identify legitimate emails from phishing attempts.
- Google Meet now supports full HD (1080p) video for live streams. This makes it possible to have high-quality video calls with large groups of people.
Pixel 7a Smartphone
The Pixel 7a is a new, thinner-than-its-predecessor mid-range phone that offers many features for a relatively low price ($499). It is powered by the Google Tensor G2 processor, which is the same processor that powers the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro. It has a 6.1-inch OLED display with a resolution of 1080 x 2400 pixels.
The Pixel 7a has a triple-lens rear camera system that includes a 64-megapixel main sensor, a 12-megapixel ultrawide sensor, and a 2-megapixel macro sensor. It has an 8-megapixel front-facing camera.
The Pixel 7a runs Android 13, the latest version of Google’s mobile operating system. Android 13 is a major update that brings a number of new features and improvements, including a new design, improved performance, and new privacy features.
The Pixel Fold is the first foldable phone from Google. It has a 7.6-inch AMOLED display when unfolded, and a 5.8-inch AMOLED display when folded. It is powered by the Google Tensor G2 processor and has 12GB of RAM and 512GB of storage. The Pixel Fold has a triple-lens rear camera system with a 50-megapixel main sensor, a 12-megapixel ultrawide sensor and a 48-megapixel telephoto sensor. It also has an 8-megapixel front-facing camera. The Pixel Fold runs Android 13; pricing starts at $1,799.
The Pixel Tablet is the first tablet from Google since the Pixel Slate in 2018. The Pixel Tablet has an 11-inch OLED display, is powered by the Google Tensor G2 processor and has 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. It has a 12.2-megapixel rear camera and an 8-megapixel front-facing camera. The Pixel Tablet runs Android 13; pricing starts at $499.
- It has a metal body with a textured finish.
- It has four speakers for immersive sound.
- It has a long-lasting battery that can provide up to 12 hours of video playback.
- It supports the Google Pen for taking notes and drawing.
- It comes with a charging dock that can also be used as a stand.
New Android 13 Features
Updates to Android 13
Android 13, released in August 2022, is available on all Pixel devices, as well as a number of other Android devices from other manufacturers. Android 13 brings a number of new features and improvements, including:
- Material You: Material You is a new design language that allows users to customize the look and feel of their device to match their personal style. Users can choose from a variety of colors and themes, and the system will automatically adjust the look of the UI to match the user’s choice.
- Privacy features: Android 13 includes a number of new privacy features, such as a privacy dashboard that gives users a clear view of how their data is being used by apps and a microphone and camera indicator that shows when an app is using either of these sensors. Users can also revoke permissions from apps that they no longer need.
- Productivity features: Android 13 includes a number of new productivity features, such as a new multitasking menu that makes it easier to switch between apps and windows, and a new way to copy and paste text and images between devices. Users can also create a work profile on their personal devices to keep their work and personal life separate.
- Gaming features: Android 13 includes a number of new gaming features, such as a new game dashboard that makes it easier to find and launch games, and a new way to record and share gameplay footage. Users can also use the Google Play Pass to access a library of over 100 premium games for free.
Google I/O 2023 was held virtually and in-person at Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View, Calif. The in-person event was limited to a small number of attendees, but the virtual event was open to everyone. Google has not released the exact number of people who attended the in-person event, but it is estimated that there were between 1,000 and 2,000 people in attendance. The virtual event had more than 60,000 registrants, and about 2 million people watched the keynote live stream.