My response to almost all the emails I receive from Google is, “OMG yes!” So when I got the email asking if I was interested in being one of the people who got to witness the latest international Google Product Launch in-person in San Francisco, I wasn’t sure how to respond properly to convey my absolute glee. Of course it was an “OMG yes!” but it was also accompanied by a literal scream, which I couldn’t convey via email. I’ve worked with Google as a photographer and I’m a huge fan of their Pixel smartphone – I was there at the launch of the Pixel 1 in India last year and I’ve been a huge fan of the brand since the early “only search engine” days.
FIRST, massive thanks are due to Jessica Sharma – thank you for everything Jessica. Hilary Neve for taking us around the launch event and Google’s SF office, wish we could’ve hung out a little longer and hope to see you soon in India – or Nepal again! Rohit Kumar from CAB Experiences – you were exceptional with your attention to detail and staying on the ball with coordinating all the logistics – I have never had such a wonderful experience with an Indian agency. Thanks also to Gul Panag and Auditya Venkatesh for being awesome company walking around SF and over Blue Moon beers. I learned a lot from the both of you and hope we can meet up soon in India too!
Now, to the launch event. Of course I woke up a half hour before my alarm was supposed to ring. I was so excited ( and still am as I am writing and editing this blog post! )
It was live-streamed, for the whole world to see, so I don’t have any scoops that viewers aren’t already aware of. As with most of my blog posts, this too is one of those that’s meant to document this amazing experience. Someone commented recently that I am living their dream – and I want to correct them. I am living MY dream and urge you to find out what your dream is and pursue living it! To have been at the center of the Google Fall Launch and to have seen first-hand, Sundar Pichai and the rest of the Google team, announce the launch of incredible products, was a high point in my life / career.
The SF Jazz Center accommodated about 200 people who were there to witness the launch. International influencers, press and some of Google top sales representatives occupied front row seats. I also go to hang out with Robert Wong who is the Vice President of Google’s Creative Lab – not just hang out, we had a full blown philosophical discussion about life and it blew my mind. It was an incredible honor to meet Max Yoshimoto, who is the Director of Consumer Hardware ID at Google – one of the people on the team that has designed the Pixel smartphone! OMG! I still can’t believe I actually met the people behind the scenes! Didn’t get a picture with Robert but managed one with Max.
During the event, one after the other, my mind was blown by the range of products. There’s a notebook too! It’s called the Google PixelBook. And the Google Clip is a curious piece of technology that I am very interested in exploring – such technology makes one think about privacy implications and also makes me worry about my profession as a photographer! If AI will be able to discern what photos are best, what need would a client have for a photographer like me and the curation / editing skills I bring to the table! It is incredibly brilliant and scary watching technology evolve right in front of my eyes. Forces me to stay on my toes too.
And then there’s the Pixel 2. A DXO Mark score of fucking NINETY EIGHT! 98! For the smartphone camera. I whooped quite loudly – if you were at the SF Jazz Center and heard a lot of loud squeals, that was me. And no, I’m not sorry because OMFG! I want that device now! Gimme it! For most of the trip to SF ( and the stop over at Hong Kong, I primarily used my Pixel 1 for all the photographs – with the Pixel 2, I’m worried that I might completely abandon my DSLR for non-client gigs! I am very much looking forward to that ability – stress free, less weight, immediate publishing AND excellent photos.
Someone was complaining about the price point on the Pixel 2 – well, it is for a certain consumer and not a mass market device. Discerning customers wanting to take their smartphone photography to the next level – people who already spend thousands of dollars on imaging technology like DSLRs and their lenses. You want great photos on your smartphone? You get a Pixel. Simple. You can simply walk past Apple’s iPhone without a second thought.
The audio jack on the Pixel 2 is gone – I’m not sure how I feel about that – will get to know once I start using the device. The phone now comes with larger memory even on the base model, so that’s an improvement. That was one of my complaints with Pixel 1 as well. I was and am using a secondary device for music / podcasts and audio books. I think I will still need a secondary device with the Pixel 2 but at least I won’t have to download images from the device to my laptop at least once every 24 hours! Unlimited photo storage on Google Photos is still a thing yes, but I still like having the photos on my laptop so I may edit in Adobe Lightroom and publish on the blog.
The Google Max is another device that was popular – amazing loud sound and you can sync more than one Max on the same network to achieve surround sound in your home! The demos were fabulous.
And then there are the Pixel Buds. I still cannot get over the live demonstration of its translation capabilities. Two Google team members were on stage, one speaking in Swedish and one in English and the Pixel Buds were translating LIVE and it was wondrous! Currently the Pixel Buds have the capability to translate about 40 languages – I’m sure the number will increase going forward. What a wonderful time to be alive!
After the launch, we were taken to a Google Mini Home Donut Pop-Up Shop where one could get in line to try their luck. A conveyor belt was spitting out boxes and at random, you could either get two massive and awesome donuts in the box or you could get a Google Home Mini! ( On surrendering my badge – I was really really sad to surrender it – I had already been gifted a Google Mini while leaving the Jazz Center, so I wasn’t too bummed to find donuts in the conveyor belt box at the pop-up. I did see a lot of people screaming with delight upon finding Google Home Minis in their donut boxes! What fun! )
This was followed by a short visit to Google’s office in San Francisco – thank you for taking us around Hilary. It was my first time at a Google office. We sat around for a while before heading out for a short walk toward the pier before calling it a day. What a positively heady day. I am now back in India and slowly editing and publishing all features from my trip to San Francisco with Google. Check out the #NAINAxGoogle hashtag for all previous and upcoming work and non-work related features with Google and the #EyesForSF hashtag for all San Francisco-related features.
All technology related feature on the Naina.co blog can be seen under the #EyesForTechnlogy Category.
These are already way more words than I had planned to write and there are a whole lot of photos below too – all photographed on the Pixel 1 of course. Basically, it is the documentation of the amazing day I had.
OMG thank you for having me at the launch Google! Yay!