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Google Updates: Review of the year 2016

AS 2016 coughs and splutters to its inevitable miserable conclusion, we thought it would be a good chance to take a look back over the news we’ve reported from Google over the past 12 months and take stock a bit. So sit back in your wingback chair, grab your pipe and slippers, perhaps a good brandy, and let’s do this.

One of the key talking points of the year is undoubtedly AI. Back at the start of the year, we were all a flutter at the fact that Google’s DeepMind computer was capable of beating a Grand Master at Go, a game that none of us had heard of, but is in fact infinitely more complicated than chess. It acted as proof that Google’s intelligence is becoming viable now, and not just an excuse to gross people out with GIFs it made whilst “dreaming”.

For us, one of the big success stories of the year continues to be Remix OS. As well as appearing on a variety of its own devices, as well as those from the likes of Azpen and Chuwi, we’ve seen this year the rise of the easy dual boot version for your existing computer and a runtime for Windows. These guys are insatiable in their desire to make Android a viable desktop player and they’re currently running rings around Google itself which is still dribbling out the Android runtime and Play Store for Chrome OS.

The biggest hardware launch of the year was, of course, The Google Pixel phone. We loved it. We just wish it wasn’t so damned expensive – especially when it relies so heavily on cloud services too. It brought us Nougat, and Google Assistant, but it’s far too early to judge if that’s a good thing or not, though it’s certainly very pretty and seems to be rolling out to other devices quicker than Marshmallow did.

Chromebooks are plodding quietly onward, making a viable alternative for people who are sick of Windows, but there’s not been any massive revelations, save for the promise of Android apps, which hasn’t quite happened yet. Chromebooks are hugely popular in schools and we know that they are being heavily pushed to businesses too, along with the renamed “G Suite” of work packages.

And finally, a nod to the first Google April Fool’s joke to go wrong. The “mic drop” GIF feature that was added got taken a bit too seriously and people lost jobs. Oops.

So that’s a brief look anyway, of course, there’s loads we haven’t covered, but all the Google Updates are still online – just do a site search.

We’ll be back with some new Google News on the first Friday of the new year. µ

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