How Google plans to have you spend less time looking at your screen

At home, at the office, on the road – your life is about to change. If Google has its way, you'll soon be free of these constant chores and living vida sin ataduras, or, the untethered life.

Across a suite of newly released products - the new Google Pixel 3 smartphone, Google Home Hub smart speaker and Google Home Max audio speaker – the company has developed a range of complementary services that leverage the hardware to act as personal assistant, butler and DJ.

Smart camera, big idea

The days of endless online searches to find the pair of shoes you saw someone wearing on the train are over (seriously, how often have you coveted a stranger's shoes?), thanks to Google Lens.

If you see it and can aim your smartphone camera at it, Lens will scan the object, identify it and automatically search for purchase options, either online or at bricks and mortar stores.

While the feature is only available on Pixel 3 smartphones, it can be used to identify a range of real world objects; such as plants, animals and products, small and large. Even if you only want more information, like what breed of dog is racing around the park, Lens will do the trick.

Nifty time saver

Oh, and here's another feature worth a look; Lens can also read text and offer further options; such as calling and messaging, or web lookup and map directions from an address - all without having to manually enter the information yourself. Glance up, read, squint down at your handset, tap, tap, tap, rinse and repeat… pfft, life's too short.

The next time you're presented with a business card, just point Lens at it and your Pixel 3 will read the card and create a new contact with all the pertinent info.

A little assistance

Available on Android devices and all Google Home smart speakers, Google Assistant is a voice-powered assistant, capable of controlling your music collection, managing appointments and calendar events, performing searches for information on the wider web, and executing simple tasks.

The Pixel 3 gives Assistant a hit of digital steroids, creating a fully featured service that's by your side, 24/7. A quick squeeze of your handset will launch Assistant (you don't even have to look at the screen), readying it for bidding.


It can help with real life-changing stuff like:

"Ok Google, get me an uber."

"Ok Google, where's the best laksa near my location?"

"Ok Google, let's watch Maid in Manhattan, on Netflix."

Music and much more

Smart speakers can seem a little fantastical in the marketing material. If you already have a Bluetooth music speaker, you don't need anything more fancy, right? Not quite.

With the release of the new Google Home Hub – a smart speaker with a 7" display screen that sits on your desk, bedside table, kitchen bench, what have you – Google has almost done away with the need to retrieve your smartphone from your pocket. Everything you may need to view on your phone is available at a glance with Home Hub.

Even music lovers will swoon over the Google Home Max speaker, which pumps out deep and rich audio that easily fills the average apartment – all controlled with a simple voice command.

Smart equals productive

For business use, Google Home speakers really come into their own. Set up Home Hub or Google Home Mini speakers in each room in your office to enable voice and messaging communications, easily set and check reminders and calendar events, and even control AV equipment in your meeting room.

With Voice Match, your Home speakers will be able to discern up to six different individuals and access features accordingly, so reminders and messaging is performed from the appropriate account.

When you control everything by voice, there will be no more accidentally wandering onto Facebook while checking messages on your phone.

Step aside, Jarvis

Imagine this: you ask Assistant to make a restaurant reservation for that evening at a new Mexican place around the corner. Assistant (Duplex) calls the restaurant, in a human voice, and requests to book a table, only to be told the venue only takes bookings for large groups.

With the release of Pixel 3, Google has harnessed this AI digital concierge?to detect and screen incoming marketing calls; answering as a human would and taking a message for your to view later.

When you think of how many marketing calls you get to your personal phone, or how many companies call your employees to offer their services, having an AI screen your calls can save time and prevent a break in your concentration.

The endgame of all this is to give you more time in your day, less time staring at your screen and better results from the hours you do spend on day-to-day tasks; whether in the office or a home.

Buyer beware

The reality is, to offer all of these features and services, there has to be a sacrifice of some kind. In this instance, the user surrenders a portion of their privacy.

While, yes, these devices are digitally secure, everything you say to Google Assistant gets logged against your Google Account. Yes, you can review the actual audio recordings of your voice, even delete them; but the heavy lifting for these services is done by a computer server?far, far away.

If you're comfortable with this, by all means, go ahead and live your best life.

If you're not comfortable with this, then the other option is to use Apple devices – which retain user data on the device, rather than send user identifiers to Apple HQ.

Of course, with time, privacy concerns will likely fall with those who remember what privacy actually was before digital devices. Until that day, the choice is yours.