We saw something new from Google today, and I'm not talking about gadgets.
Tech events usually come in two flavors. You get the sterile, bland demonstration of the capabilities of whatever is being announced, or you get an absolute trainwreck with demo fails and horrible attempts at being relatable. Fortunately for those of us who attend these events on a regular basis, there's a lot more of the former than the latter. Our job is to relay that information to you through whichever personal lens we rely on as writers, and really what we all really want is to get hands on whatever is being announced so we can share our thoughts.
Today, we got a look at a third kind of tech event. A Google event, by which I means the kind of event only Google could put on and make work.
It was an exciting, well executed demonstration of what people can expect from this new wave of products.
In the span of an hour, Google managed to unveil two phones, two Chromecasts, one hell of a tablet, family plans for Play Music, new accidental damage plans, future plans for Google Photos, and a whole lot of little things about Android 6.0 as it interacts with just about everything. The demonstrations of what these phones will look like and how they will behave in the demo situations explained just about everything you needed to know, including when you can actually throw money at the screen to buy whichever product struck your fancy. It was an exciting, well executed demonstration of what people can expect from this new wave of products.
For any other company, this event would have been a lot of terse, quick demonstrations with just enough in between for applause. It would have been quick, clean, and largely devoid of character — not to mention chock full of old white dudes. We didn't get that from Google today. We got subtle jabs at Apple, meme drops live on stage, some awkward music, and a diverse stage full of talented people with crazy things like accents and colorful outfits and Melanin, as well as a healthy display of colorful Android Wear options.
It may not seem like it at first, but this sort of thing matters to a lot of people. Google didn't stand on stage and call their competitors names or spout misleading stats or insult the way they do business, but more than a couple of moments left the viewer with that "I see what you did there" smile as the presentation continued. At the same time, Google took time to make sure Apple products were included in the presentation and made it clear their services were just as important as their products. Apple is a big part of the mobile ecosystem, and Google both respects and supports people who choose something that isn't Android.
They talked about the purpose of things like the expanded Pixel team, and the explanation didn't feel boilerplate, it felt personal. We got cat memes instead of stock photos, because that's the audience Google is reaching with this kind of presentation and they know it. There was no need to hide behind the dry corporate blandness, this was Google being Google on stage for everyone to see. Demonstrations that make sure to include the global audience so there's no concern that an accent will ruin the voice experience, and a focus on interacting with family and friends through technology.
If nothing else, this event is a nice change of pace from the weirdness that has been Nexus launch events over the last couple of years. Google's got new leadership all over the place this year, and this is the first real event we're seeing with Sundar Pichai at the head of the table. There's a lot to be excited about with today's announcements, but there's also a lot to be excited about when it comes to Google as a company. We've got questions needing to be answered about the Pixel C and where that fits into the Google landscape, but also there needs to be a deeper look at how all of these services are coming together in a way that deserves a name other than deeply integrated.
We'll have lots of time to push those buttons and swipe those screens, but for now it's nice to know Google's refresh goes a whole lot deeper than a colorful new logo.