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Google is a tech giant to be reckoned with. Not just because they have so much data at their disposal and a huge user base, but because they know how to innovate. For far too long, smartphones have been fighting each other with features and specs. Screen sizes kept getting bigger, bezels got smaller and the hardware inside got more and more impressive. However, having better hardware doesn’t fundamentally change how we use devices.
For example, take the iPhone X’s notch. Although it’s certainly different, it’s a strange design choice that will ultimately take up space on your device. Although the iPhone X sports a relatively thin bezel, most people would argue that it’s not worth giving up screen space for. In retaliation to Apple’s new phones, Google unveiled the new Pixel 2 phone on the 4th of October and many people have been impressed by what’s on offer. Sadly, it seems like many journalists are missing what truly makes the Pixel 2 special: the software.
What Is Machine Learning?
Machine learning is a term that Google used a lot during their speeches at the reveal. However, there aren’t many people that understand what it is or how it can help their lives. Google is using what’s known as an agile approach to software development. This article titled “Agile Methodology: The Complete Guide to Understanding Agile Testing” is a great introduction into what agile methodology is (and even how it could apply to your workplace!). In short, it covers some fundamentals of software design such as making active user interaction a focal point and making sure to push small and frequent updates to keep software going. This is exactly what the Pixel 2 phone embodies: frequent updates, a large base active users to learn from and constant testing of new features.
What machine learning does is use complex algorithms to study habits and then turn that data into new routines that aren’t explicitly programmed. For instance, one of the most impressive features of the Pixel 2 phone is the ability to recognise music that’s playing in the background and display the name and artist. This isn’t done using an online service. In fact, there’s a machine learning model built into phone that has a database of over 100,000 songs that is updated weekly to match your location. For example, if you live in Japan, then it will learn to recognise plenty of Japanese songs, the database will be updated frequently and it will be able to name virtually any song you throw at it.
Why Is This Special?
Machine learning essentially gives our software a way to constantly update itself and learn new things. Whether it’s connecting to your Google Chromecast to suggest shows you may like or to your thermostat so that it can learn what temperatures you prefer, machine learning is paving the way for a smarter AI-infused future. It will completely change the way we use technology and it’s already being embedded into many of Google’s devices. Be it the camera on their Pixel 2 phones or their up and coming Pixelbook Chromebook, Google plans to use machine learning as a way to accelerate technological growth—and they’re doing a damn fine job of it.