It should be no surprise that the company aiming to hold all the world’s information is trying their hand at as many new products as possible. Our sister company, Cloud9 Smarthome, attended the largest smarthome trade show in the world last week and sure enough, Google was there showing off all the ways Google Cast can throw your hand-held content onto bigger speakers and screens. (Our two-minute recap of the trade show is worth checking out, by the way.)
Sometimes it seems Google just throws ideas against the wall and sees what sticks. This week alone they’ve released two new products, and the reactions couldn’t have been more polarizing.
The Win: Google Trips
Realizing the need for less hectic travel, Google launched a new App that organizes just about everything you’ll need for a smooth expedition. When you first arrive at a new location is when you need your phone the most, yet it’s when you’re least likely to have an internet connection (especially internationally.) Google Trips solves this by downloading everything you’ll need to get settled locally to your phone, including the Google Maps section between your airport and hotel. Managing an itinerary is more fluid and geography-conscious, automatically mapping out your day, providing travel times and keeping pertinent visitor info front and center. It will also generate suggestions of alternative things to do nearby.
Trips mines your Gmail inbox to build your suggested itinerary automatically in half-day and full-day excursions, then downloads it all to your phone so you can study up while you’re off the grid.
The Fail: Google Allo
On Wednesday Google released their hyped up and retooled messaging App, once called Duo and now called Allo, to much disappointment. It takes a very compelling product to get people to change whatever messaging App they’re already used to. Allo’s promise was more of an ecosystem than an App – one that could pull up whatever you needed without the need to toggle between yelp, maps, browser, etc. The result feels more like a beta version of this promise and struggles with compatibility issues (anyone who doesn’t have the App receives what looks like a phishing message asking them to download it), and mediocre performance of its most interesting feature: Google Assistant. Talking or typing to Google Assistant is meant to be a handy way to pull up answers, videos, restaurant suggestions, etc from within the conversation you’re having… but it makes too many mistakes to impress on launch.
Allo does have some notable features like sticker packs from artists hand-picked by Google, drag-up-and-down font size adjustment, and the ability to doodle on top of images before sending them. Outside of the cutesy flourishes however, everyone seems to be scratching their heads as to why Google believed this product was ready for the public.