Last week Google announced updates to its Chrome operating system, browser, and Web Store offerings. Google released a beta test version of a lightweight laptop computer for Chrome that it hopes that partners like Acer and Samsung will be selling by the middle of 2010 – and many more soon after. The product is intended to eventually take all your computing life to the Internet.
Google isn’t saying how many machines it will send out for testing over the next couple of months, but reports of at least 60,000 machines seem accurate, perhaps low.
There are broken things Google knew were a problem — the trackpad is too sensitive, the (Adobe) Flash doesn’t work on all websites.” For example, the search box in Wikipedia does not show up in the usual place, I found out later, and some sites load incompletely, said Sundar Pichai, Google’s vice president in charge of most all things Chrome.
Do not expect more Chrome devices besides laptops this year. This is really about getting the software right for this device, then getting it right for other forms. “Fast forwarding a year, we’ll have stable software end to end, with all the functionality you’ll need” to switch out from a conventional laptop, Pichai said. “We want an ecosystem in which many hardware manufacturers will participate.”
Chrome is supposed to eventually show up on mobile devices, but only when Google can get the input right. “We have to take the context into account,” he said. You may want to dictate to it — mobile is about voice, touch, eventually a camera that sees.”
-Further out, facial recognition too. “A few years from now maybe I can take a picture and get what I need to know about someone from the Internet, everything that is (in the public domain) on there about him,” said Pichai. He noted that the Google Goggles project already works at recognizing and labeling Web-based images of people and objects – and like voice recognition, it just gets better as you load in more data.
Is that creepy? The standard Google response is, we didn’t make this world, we just exploit it. Which is true, except for the “didn’t make this world” part. But also true, someone else would have if they didn’t. The reality is, they do just aggregate what we let into the public realm.