11 May 2023 Google’s AI Revolution: a commentary on the 2023 I/O Keynote and other announcements
Palo Alto. Sundar came out announcing quite a number of improvements with AI being at the forefront of almost everything Google has done this year. AI will become more integrated with Google’s services, expanding on the existing quick responses in emails and chat messages.
PaLM 2 was introduced, which is Google’s next generation language model, providing improved multilinguality (spanning more than 100 languages), reasoning (using PaLM 2’s wide-ranging dataset including scientific papers and web pages) and coding capabilities across 20 popular languages.
PaLM 2 will also power over 25 Google products and features. Its multilingual capabilities will be used to expand Bard (Bard is Google’s version of ChatGPT) to new languages. Workspaces will get an upgrade to help you write emails and documents with a few prompts, organise data in Google Sheets, so you really will have a true assistant!!!
Another area that Google has invested time and resources into is Security, and all this AI work is no exception. A specialised version of PaLM 2 has been trained on security use-cases and cybersecurity analysis. It will help discover and explain the behaviour of potentially malicious scripts.
A repeating theme at Google I/O was not just the integrations of AI, but the responsible use and integration of AI into the services Google is providing. The last thing we need is horde of NS-5’s hunting down humans, controlled by a Google-backed hive mind!!! This has personally filled me with a little more confidence in the AI work that has been going on around me, while I ignorantly go about my daily work and life. I’m aware that I’m probably using AI at least 20 times a day while talking to Google Assistant, Alexa and Siri, not to mention every time I look at my phone, but as a technologist, I have stayed away from wading in the AI waters.
Android 14 was announced, and AI integration continued on in here as well. There have been several tweaks to the UI to make it more customisable, more Material You. A nifty feature that’s been expanded in Android 14 is the Find my device feature, allowing users to find their Pixel Buds using other people’s devices. For example, imagine you just came home from the gym, and you couldn’t find your device. Apart from being annoyed, you could find the Pixel Buds and locate them using any nearby Android devices. Android 14 is currently in Beta, and should be out later this year, coinciding with the release of the next two announcements: the Google Pixel Tablet and Google Pixel Fold!
The Pixel Tablet is just as the name suggests: a tablet in the Google Pixel family of devices. It looks sweet, coming in a 128Gb and 256Gb options and two colours: Coral (offering both sizes) and Charcoal (only offering 128Gb). It comes with a docking station that acts as a charging dock and an additional speaker. It’s currently available for pre-order, and will start being delivered in the second half of June. Coming in at AU$899 for the 128Gb and AU$999 for the 256Gb models, these are a great deal. An additional case for the tablet can also be attached to the back and doesn’t impact the docking due to a large ring that allows the dock to be placed within the ring and dock in the appropriate location. They’ve really put a lot of thought into this design.
The Pixel Tablet is an 11-inch screen, running the current Google Tensor G2 processor, can pair with Pixel phones and earbuds, has integrated entertainment with Google TV, and will allow you to easily control your home with the Google Home app. One downside is that it doesn’t have mobile connectivity via a SIM or eSIM card, it only has Wi-Fi connectivity. But if you are taking this out and about, you can always tether it to your phone.
Speaking of phones, the latest in Google’s offerings is the Google Pixel Fold. This has been years in the making and many would say that Google is late to the party. I say that Google has looked at what other early adopters have done and learned from their mistakes and made just the right kind of foldable device.
Running the same Google Tensor G2 processor, Google have spent a lot of time perfecting Android to run on such a complex device. The 5.8-inch external screen opens up to a 7.6-inch 6:5 ratio foldable screen on the inside, both running at 120Hz for smooth scrolling and video. You can now take selfies using the best camera on the phone, usually the one on the back, and potentially the market, with the 48-megapixel sensor.
The hinge looks very sturdy, and is one of the most durable out in the market, and has an IPX8 rating for water resistance. You can put this in Tabletop mode by folding it slightly and placing it on the table, and you can watch YouTube clips on the upper screen, while the bottom screen has the video controls. Another great feature is the use of both front and inner screens simultaneously when conversing with someone in a foreign language – AI to the rescue again with translations.
The Pixel Fold’s biggest downside is its price and availability. Currently not available in Australia, in the US it is starting at $1799 for this ultra-premium looking device.
Both of these devices will ship with Android 14.
Another interesting Google I/O Keynote has concluded. I hope technologists still have a job in the coming years, with the advancement of AI being so incredible. It’s both exciting and super-scary at the same time. But we are edging closer towards a life like the Jetsons every day.
Visit io.google/2023 for more information and presentations, or to rewatch the Keynote.