Google just laid out its vision for how you’ll use its services in the future, and it doesn’t revolve around smartphones.
The company is working towards creating a smart assistant that can follow you anywhere, according to this year’s “Founders’ Letter” where CEO Sundar Pichai laid out the company’s biggest focus points.
“Looking to the future, the next big step will be for the very concept of the ‘device’ to fade away,” CEO Sundar Pichai writes. “Over time, the computer itself — whatever its form factor — will be an intelligent assistant helping you through your day. We will move from mobile first to an AI first world.”
Pichai briefly introduced this catchphrase in Google’s recent earnings call, but used the letter to expand on what exactly that means.
Google wants its artificial intelligence-powered services to live across all types of platforms — from phones and watches to the speakers in your living room or your car’s dashboard — and use that context to understand exactly what kind of information it can proactively provide.
“You should be able to move seamlessly across Google services in a natural way, and get assistance that understands your context, situation, and needs — all while respecting your privacy and protecting your data,” Pichai writes.
A crowded field
Google’s current iteration of this idea — Google Now and Now On Tap — can do things like pluck flight information from your email to tell you when you should leave for the airport or warn you about impending bad weather. But the company believes that its combination of search strength, geographical information, image recognition and natural language processing give it the potential to do so much more.
A person who was all-in on Google’s services could, for example, have its smart assistant use their Google Maps and Calendar information to automatically send people a message if they’re running late to a meeting, or proactively provide the right Docs when they eventually got there, without them having to search.
Google’s not the only company working hard on this idea. Facebook is building a smart assistant called M that it says will eventually give users “super-powers,” Amazon’s digital assistant Alexa makes its Echo speaker a hub for all sorts of productivity tasks, and countless startups are trying to automate specific aspects of your life.
The bottom-line: an AI-powered future is coming, whether or not Google’s right about exactly what it will look like.