Google just dropped a metric ton of Google on us. Sorting through it all, it's clear that the company's not just trying to put new goodness into the world; it's trying to blow plenty of existing products and services out of the water. Here are all the things Google's looking to unseat and uppercut into the spike pit.
Welp, here's Hangouts. Google announced its new chat app today, which is for conversations (text, photos, albums), between one person or, more importantly, groups. It's on the web, iOS, and Android, and has a ton of group features. Video chat (for the whole group, and free) is obvious, but it gives you notifications for everyone in the chat. It's unified chat in a way that Google hasn't done before, and in a way that should make popular cross-platform apps like GroupMe very nervous.
This one's obvious, but Google announced Google Play Music All Access, a paid subscription music service. You'll be able to sign up for the service, which will be linked and integrated to your Google account better than existing third-party providers ever could be, and listen to full tracks, store them, or just play internet radio. Right through your Google account. Spotify, Pandora, and Rdio all have their cross-platform ubiquity in their favor, but remember: Google is Google, and the web is everywhere.
Google's new idea for mobile payments, using Google Wallet, is to autocomplete all the fields that mobile stores ask for. Your address, your credit card, your billing zip code. All of it stored in your Google Wallet account. We've seen this novel idea from MasterCard before, and PayPal's offered similar for ages, but if you're automatically logged in as soon as you sign into your phone, well, why would you use something else?
Classrooms haven't gotten smarter at the same rate as the trinkets in our pockets have. That's been obvious for years. Google announced a new platform to buy apps, textbooks, and videos for schools, right through the Google Play interface. Google apps have been in a lot of colleges, but setting up a platform that lets school admins buy content (through funded balances, instead of credit cards), and push it to every student in the district, is a pretty compelling idea.
The coolest nerd service thing of the day might have been the announcement of the new unskinned stock Android Galaxy S 4. Party time! But the subtext there, maybe, is that Google knows the skins that manufacturers shove onto their phones aren't how people should be using Android. And the more choice we have on these flagship devices, the better off we'll all be.
Gifs and Jpegs
Google announced that it's going to be throwing its weight behind a (relatively) new file type, called WebP. It can deliver lossless images, no different in quality from Jpegs or Gifs, but at about 26 percent smaller sizes. It can even do animations. Google's pushing this format in HTML 5, and has optimized Chrome for it, to let media-rich sites more usable as it pushes Chrome OS and the mobile web on tablets on phones.
It's the storage. Google+ upped your max to 15GB storage (from 5GB) for your full size photos on Google+. You still get infinite storage for standard size, but what matters for Flickr is that Google is moving in on the full res territory it had staked out in its fight for its life against Facebook. A unified storage bin from Google is pretty attractive, especially if it keeps working with the big, professional file sizes.
Google+'s new Auto-Awesome and photo enhancing stuff is aimed at people who don't know much about editing a photo, but know enough to know that there's cool stuff that can be done. If it works properly (and we'll have a hands-on to tell you), it will touch up every single photo you upload, fixing wrinkles and exposure and red eyes and the like. More over, it will do this automatically, so there's much less chance this feature will just fall forgotten to the side, like so many things do.
Google's new conversational search is wildly ambitious. It's also a pitch we've heard before. Talking to your phone or computer like you'd talk to a real assistant (a word Google used throughout the presentation) is what Siri was supposed to be. But Siri's real problem was always that it was just, well, a bad search engine . You think that's going to be a problem for Google?