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Google jumps from mobile to AI-first platform as it turns 18

tech Updated: Oct 05, 2016 23:54 IST
Anirban Ghoshal
Anirban Ghoshal
Hindustan Times
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Google CEO Sundar Pichai speaks during a product event, Tuesday. (AP)

Apple beware! That seemed to be the message that Google sent out on Tuesday as it launched new smartphones, a connected home solution, 4K Chromecast, better wifi and a new Daydream virtual reality headset with a controller.

So what? Google announces new devices every year at this time. Last year, Google unveiled its Nexus 6P and 5X smartphones on September 29. And two years ago, it announced the Nexus 6 smartphone and Nexus 9 tablet on October 15.

But what was so different this time? The entry of the long-awaited Google Assistant which Google claims have been in the making for the last 18 years. And the entry denotes that Google has now jumped from a mobile-first strategy to a artificial-intelligence-first startegy.

“Google is now moving forward from a mobile-first platform to an artificial intelligence-first platform. And the culmination of all the efforts is the Google Assistant,” Google CEO Sundar Pichai said, as he kicked off the keynote speech at Ghirardelli Square Fisherman’s Wharf area of San Francisco, California.

“The Assistant will help Google design a personal Google for everyone,” he added just seconds before announcing the launch of Google’s latest smartphones -- Pixel, Pixel XL and Google Home.

The Mountain View-headquartered giant had showcased the Home -- a competition to Amazon’s Echo that comes with Amazon’s own digital concierge Alexa -- at the Google Developers conference in May.

“Google Home is a device that will free you from your smartphone. You can talk to Google whenever you want without being tied to a phone,” Pichai said adding that the company was aiming to build the power of Search and the Assistant to make Google customisable for all users.

Artificial intelligence (AI), once a boon for science fiction movies, is set to insinuate itself into every nook and cranny of our lives, according to internet giant Alphabet, nee Google.

Google’s artificial intelligence chief John Giannandrea, who calls computers “dumb”, sees more companies adopting the AI technology in India, especially in the financial services, healthcare and manufacturing sectors. Giannandrea met HT a week before in New Delhi.

The Google Pixel phone is displayed during the presentation of new Google hardware in San Francisco, California, US. (Reuters)

In its pursuit to become an AI-first company, Google will give $20 million to Indian startups to encourage wider adoption of artificial intelligence and machine learning techniques.

It is uploading these technologies in the cloud so that businesses and individuals can use these after making a payment, he said.

Giannandrea is optimistic that these technologies will turn popular. “Society adapts to latest technology. People nowadays are performing more intellectual roles than 50 years ago.”

At Nasscom 10,000 Startups Change Makers Summit, after e-commerce, the largest number of applications was filed in financial-tech, AI and IoT sectors.Nasscom is evaluating these companies for funding and government grants.

Other large companies are also investing in artificial intelligence. Microsoft plans to build AI capabilities across applications, services and infrastructure, and transform what people and organisations do.

“Microsoft has an approach … that seeks to democratise AI, to take it from the ivory towers and make it accessible for all,” said Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, at Microsoft Ignite 2016 technology conference held last month.

IBM’s AI analytics Watson has been deployed at Manipal Hospitals to treat cancer better.