OK Google, How Was Your 2016? A Recap Of Google's Year That Was
A few more days and the world bids goodbye to 2016.
The past year has been a year full of ups and downs. Among the few highlights were El Chapo's arrest, Fidel Castro's death (this one is debatable), and the stars of the Rio Olympics.
The year was also riddled with heartbreaks and controversies. There's Brexit, the U.S Elections, Black Lives Matter, and the terrorist attacks. The pain of seeing Syrians being slaughtered while others are fleeing their land was somewhat relieved by the heartfelt gestures of some to help the displaced.
Gone were the likes of legendary musicians David Bowie, Glenn Frey, Maurice White, Prince, Leonard Cohen, and George Michael. Versatile entertainers Alan Rikman, George Kennedy, Gene Wilder, Patty Duke and Zsa Zsa Gabor along with celebrated authors Edward Albee, Umberto Eco and Harper Lee also passed away.
Other personalities who kicked the bucket were sports' Gordie Howe, Pat Summitt, Jose Fernandez, and Arnold Palmer, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, astronaut-turned-senator John Glenn, former first lady Nancy Reagan, King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand, and the greatest ever Muhammad Ali.
The Star Wars franchise was also hit badly. They lost Erik Bauerfeld, the man behind the line, "It's a trap!", Kenny Baker who played the droid R2-D2, and just recently, Carrie Fisher. A day after Princess Leia became a star in the galaxy, her mother actress and singer Debbie Reynolds, also passed away.
The field of technology was not spared of the good and the bad and Google was among those which had an eventful 2016.
Entering the year, Google was still adjusting to the confusing 2015 split that created the parent company, Alphabet. Despite the corporate restructuring, Google proceeded with its rebuilding starting with a newfound focus on hardware and artificial intelligence.
Google released its first ever exclusive hardware in the form of the Pixel phones. The hype was high with the Pixel and Pixel XL and lots of people ordered them. Too many, in fact, that Google was forced to give away $50 credit to compensate for the delay in shipment. But since their release, reports of issues started to trickle in. Among the problems encountered by users were freezing displays, the camera's purple vertical lines or lens flare effect, non-working microphones, connectivity issues, battery problems, and overheating.
The company created its own speaker to challenge the likes of Amazon's Echo and its AI Alexa. Google Home was prettier, more responsive and smarter than Alexa, many attested. However, Alexa is a veteran who knows more skills than any other AI. Google Home also does not connect with as many smart home platforms as Alexa. By far, Google Home has been impressive but still has lots of ways to go to catch up with Alexa.
Assistant is the real equivalent of Alexa in the Google stable. The AI is supported by Echo and the Pixel phones. A Business Insider reporter put four AIs (Alexa, Siri, Cortana and Assistant) on a head-to-head-to-head with Google Assistant getting the win.
Here's one thing that Google did right. Google WiFi is an inexpensive yet reliable mesh WiFi network. The powerful device is the best alternative to the conventional router as it negates the need for WiFi extenders yet offers seamless coverage throughout the user's home.
Google Daydream View
Google has also joined the VR circus with the Daydream View. The $79 Daydream View looks different from others VR headsets and this is a plus or a minus depending on consumers' taste. It has little features that make it strike out from the rest of the field. For now, having a Daydream View is not exactly living the dream but if Google assimilates some of its rumored projects such as eye-tracking and inside-out cameras, then the daydream View will give other a run for their money.
Allo and Duo are two communication apps that Google released in 2016. Both have not fared well in the Google Play Store simply because Google has not advertised them as much. The two apps are also too similar to existing apps Hangouts and Android's SMS Messenger.
Google's initial foray to hardware and other fields is impressive. If the Pixel issues are resolved then Google should have a generally "OK Google" year.
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