Google presses algorithm, cloud advantage vs. Apple, rivals

Google presses algorithm, cloud advantage vs. Apple, rivals

Summary: Whether it's photo editing enhancements, voice search or new mapping tools, the efforts boil down to machine learning and cloud infrastructure --- Google's primary core competency. Can rivals keep up?


SAN FRANCISCO---Google's Vic Gundotra introduced new photo enhancement features to Google+ that are consumery, entertaining and pretty useful. The photo enhancements to Google+ may be enough to sway a few converts to the search giant's social networking effort.

But don't take your eye off the ball here. Gundotra's announcements at Google I/O weren't about social networking, search or even product features. The enhancements to Google+ as well as Google Maps, voice recognition, sensors and search enhancements boil down to two words: Cloud and machine learning.

"Google's data center is your darkroom," said Gundotra.



The new Google features by themselves are interesting, but the big picture is that Google can go places that rival Apple can't. Could Apple really do these features? Apple is working on its cloud efforts, but machine learning and algorithms are places it can't go.

Google CEO Larry Page knocked the Google vs. rivals storyline, but it's hard to ignore the advantage the search giant has pushing boundaries. "The opportunities ahead are tremendous," said Google CEO Larry Page. "We're only at one percent of what's possible. Despite the faster change in the industry we're still moving slow relative to the opportunities we have. We should be building great things that don't exist."

Page added that creating the future isn't a zero sum game. But as hardware becomes increasingly irrelevant and cloud services take over from software in many respects, Google can have its paws everywhere. This reality is why analysts are antsy over Apple's cloud prowess. 

More from Google I/O: I/O 2013: Google's location APIs likely to fuel Google Glass apps | Samsung Galaxy S4 gets Android Nexus treatment for $649 | I/O 2013: Google Plus getting 41 updates | Google aims to deliver tablets to all schools with new education initiative | Google gives digital music another look with Play Music All-Access | Google developer tool releases include new Maps, Games, Google+ APIs | Google I/O by the numbers: 900 million Android activations | Google to use open-source sensors to monitor I/O conference | Techmeme roundup | CNET roundup


Gundotra highlighted machine learning algorithms that can pick the best pictures. These algorithms make enhancements and picks "with human taste."



Elsewhere, Google outlined enhancements to search, voice recognition and Google Now. These things were interesting, useful and creepy to some degree. The secret sauce: Algorithms and machine learning with a dose of the cloud to offload mobile computing tasks.

Google's voice tools can now more or less guess what you want using location and context. These features will be in Chrome, Chrome OS and Android. Apple's Siri is about to get lapped.



The big picture: Google is aiming to blow up the search interface overtime and retool it with voice activation. You'll basically talk to Google and its search experience.

Google Map enhancements and increased coverage around the world---50 countries with Street View and 200 country maps (including North Korea) covered---also boil down to cloud, data centers and algorithms tying it all together.  Google Maps' new frontier---the map is the user interface. 



Under the hood of all these enhancements is a cloud infrastructure and algorithms where the real battleground with Google and rivals will take place. It's unclear if Google will really woo users with these features---it's a bit of a shame that the photo features are lumped into Google+---but the battle ground is clear. It's all about the algorithms and cloud capabilities.

Topics: Google, Big Data, Cloud, Mobility, Software Development

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  • Forgetting one MAJOR player here...

    BING is the future of mobile, therefore anyone relying on Google services is SOL. I legally changed my daughter's name to Bing Cox. My rep told me there was a massive opportunity for hyper-marketing if I did it and I signed on the line which was dotted. Long ago, I made Bing the only search engine available to our employees. It is so good, the number of search requests is almost down to nothing. My employees are THAT empowered!
    Mike Cox
    • Thank you

      The perfect comment.
    • Really, you changed your daughter's name to Bing?

      I hope she does not grow to hate you for that.

      "I made Bing the only search engine available to our employees. It is so good, the number of search requests is almost down to nothing."

      Or they don't use it because they don't like it a much a Google and you are forcing them to only use Bing.
      • Dude.....

        You just ate that bait.
      • .

        I hope you aren't serious since Mr. Cox definitely wasn't.
    • bling bling

      is a slang word of minorities. It was introduced by monkeysoft to acknowledge minorities while presidential hype was high.

      You, Mike, are a very slow person.
      • communismco...who is slow?

        And what does "bling" have to do with anything? Be like the rest of the $croogle lemmings and sheep and get $croogled.
    • At least Bing is not Scroogling you.

      Microsoft does not sell search results to the highest bidder. Google search has gotten so cluttered with ad and big dollar results, we REALLY are using Bing more and more. It's results are often more accurate than Scroogle.
    • Bing is death fish...

      ...and it's only better guiding people 5 times more likely than Google to malware sites.
      • Google is death fish

        ...and it's only better guiding people 100 times more likely than Bing to malware sites.
        And IE is the only browser that has a good working website filter built in, if you do insist on using $croogle for your search. Just know you'll have to go several pages deep to get to the hits you want and get by all of the paid results that have nothing to do with your search criteria.
        There, I can make claims on the internet too w/o backing them up.
  • Google's voice tools?

    I have a Nexus 4 and I am not thrilled with the phones voice recognition, it has a difficult time dialing the phone so I am not going to try anything more complicated than that with it. My prior Samsung Galaxy S phone and my Windows mobile 6.5 phone before that did a better job understanding what I said than the Nexus 4 does.
  • The only reality is what I see

    It's interesting how some people only see one dimension, one thing. It's either Google or Apple or MSF and fail to see that there are other people working along similar lines, exploring similar possibilities. I guess there is to much info out there and just staying on top of one companies developments is enough.
  • Perhaps an opportunity for MS and Apple. MS is years ahead of google on

    both machine learning and cloud prowess. While apple can equal google on machine learning they dont on cloud but they could easily outsource their cloud to MS. Apple is good at building "green" datacenters but not at effectiively utililizing the hardware and it's the software that matters.
    Johnny Vegas
    • shilly shill shill

      monkeysoft blah blah blah. Now pay up.
      • silly silly shill

        $croogle blah blah blah. Now pay up.
  • machine learning and voice tools

    Have worked extensively in the area of ASR I consider myself somewhat of an expert.
    Apple is not Google's rival in this area. How good your speech / context recognition depends on how good your acoustic models are. Now its true that Google has its vast database of search queries to build dictionaries of common words and phrases but there is one company that started a long time ago, it brought up all its rivals over the years and has vast server farms to handle its voice clients. Siri being one of these that company is Nuance. I've done extensive comparisons between Nuance and Google for automotive infotainment and location systems and Nuance is always the hands down rival. However if you turn Googles Expletive language filter off, you see what happens if you base your acoustic models on google searches. Very hilarious , just keep your kids from looking over your shoulder.
  • machine learning is far more complicated than voice recognition

    IBM demonstrated machine learning in the documentary on Watson their supercomputer project that plays Jeopardy against humans.
    Watson didn't know that the required answer to a question was just the month and instead gave the exact date as the answer. However, it was always fed the correct answer and the answers given by the human contestants and with machine learning it automatically worked out the correct context for answers and instead of giving the exact date it answered the correct month the next time it gave an answer to that category. There was no change to the code, it simply used feedback to learn.
    Google is showing this machine learning in the results because it is also using a lot of feedback mechanisms. Apple uses minimal user feedback with it's AI engines and thus cannot take advantage of machine learning like Google can.
  • Anything to enlarge their spynet

    Google is becoming a frightening juggernaut. They can offer endless apps and services to build up profiles on their users and increase their advertising revenues.

    Just remember, nothing is free from Google. It is your private information that they are after. Someday, it will be your identity that you lose.