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The CES comedown and the coming onslaught

I didn't attend Las Vegas this year, but having to oversee CES coverage from the same seat that I regularly do my job gave me a top-down perspective on how alternately tenuous and vacuous the whole thing seems.

Some years, a particular trend stood out — 3D, or curved, or the reclaimed vestiges of old operating systems — but in 2017, what emerged was a pervasive vagueness.

From the outside, Alexa seems to have stolen the show: without an official presence from Amazon, the nascent AI platform was everywhere, buoyed by the fact that the Seattle giant has made it incredibly easy — Netflix easy — to add near-cognition to a refrigerator or slow-moving buddy robot.

Alexa's ubiquity also speaks to the fact that, as with the early days of iOS and Android, gadgets and their creators have a very difficult time living in a vacuum, and the advantages to a box that advertises Alexa is just as important as having it in the product itself.

I'm intrigued — fascinated, even — with the prospect of using Android apps on Chrome OS.

From an Android Central perspective, we saw the announcement of two fantastic-looking and potentially disruptive Chromebooks, at least one of which will be making it into my office in the next few weeks. I'm intrigued — fascinated, even — with the prospect of using Android apps on Chrome OS, especially on hardware like the Samsung Chromebook Pro that was specifically designed for such purposes.

And then there was the surprise expansion of Google Assistant into none other than the updated NVIDIA Shield, which marks the first time Google's own AI has extended beyond the company's own hardware. Google has a vested interest in catching up to Alexa as quickly as possible, as all it has to do is mirror Amazon's strategy: because there is no UI to speak of outside the generalized voice interface people are increasingly growing accustomed to, Google can and should give Assistant away to as many people as possible through myriad hardware and software partners since it alone controls the cloud backend.

Google has a vested interest in catching up to Alexa as quickly as possible.

Finally, the Huawei Mate 9 made its U.S. debut, and having used it for nearly two months I have to say I'm excited to see what the Chinese giant can achieve. Without carrier support the Mate 9 won't sell in quantity, but this is the company's first true salvo into the world's most important handset market.

Other wins:

  • The TCL-built BlackBerry 'Mercury' looks intriguing, and I have to admit to a fair amount of nostalgia-driven interest, but the prospect of reverting back to typing on a physical keyboard for an extended period of time interests me as much as returning to ink-and-paper for note-taking. That is, there is an inherent fascination in finding that analog person I left behind half a decade ago, but it's not so strong as to upend my workflow which is, even on a touchscreen keyboard, far more efficient.
  • Google Assistant aside, I'm really excited to give the new NVIDIA Shield a try, even if I don't have a 4K TV. More and more, though, I'm finding reasons to upgrade.
  • The ASUS ZenFone 3 Zoom is a phone I could get behind if I didn't know exactly what kind of software disappointment I was in for. But I do, so I'm preemptively walking away.
  • The Snapdragon 835 is, geek speak aside, one of the most important announcements of the year. Moving to a 10nm process alone is cause for celebration, especially as Intel continues to falter in the x86 department.
  • On the Windows side, Razer's Project Ariana is one of the most tenacious and unique enterprises I've seen in years, and I really hope the company makes it happen.

Thanks for following along on our CES 2017 adventure. The year is new, but I think it was a great start, and I can't wait to share what we have in store in the coming months!

-Daniel

Daniel Bader was a former Android Central Editor-in-Chief and Executive Editor for iMore and Windows Central. 

21 Comments
  • Not much going on for apple at CES? No wonder he didn't go lol. He'd rather re-hash his previous "Google is behind again," article and give 3rd hand reports on a technology conference. Good job, I guess. I'm trying to incorporate SOME kind of nice comment with my contributions.
  • ALex was in a lot more products (and many more unique product) than Google Assistant was. Amazon definitely won the mind share this year.
  • That was an interesting autocorrect, meant to type Alexa
  • Because of the need to water down the Google ecosystem here on AC, the product is not understood. Basically, these are two different assistants. Google is an ad service. Amazon is a marketplace. Google isn't behind anything. Amazon found an entry point into mobile after the fire OS disaster. Google doesn't want or need to dominate the market in home assistance. Let's face it, a lot of the apps that Google has made are mediocre at best. It's the OS, it's flexibility, and its services that make Android the best mobile OS around today. Gh may never be all that we want it to be. But it will find its way and carve its niche and be successful. It's not a matter of being behind. My accountant has different skills than my hr which is is different than my marketing. I want more people in marketing than in accounting. Amazon has one technology effort outside of its marketplace, Alexa. It's doing great grabbing market share with its set of skills. Google has never been a marketplace but has been evolving its assistant for a few years, bringing Google assistant to market on the pixels and will also expand. Knowing that Google isn't trying to sell me a product is huge when I am researching a product. Can I trust that Alexa won't steer me towards one of amazon's products because sales is a central core of the service?
  • What need to water down the Google ecosystem? This is Android Central, not Google Central. Amazon makes Android devices, so they're just as relevant as Google is.
  • I was referring to the author's history and intent, not your comment.
  • That was a contribution?
  • no one cares about your contributions. Thanks!
  • But I do thank you for noticing and even addressing me on their behalf. Lol
  • oh you're so welcome, friend! <3
  • Looking forward to the 835!
  • I, for one, am super excited about Google assistant in the shield. I even convinced the wife we should play things fast and loose with the budget so I could pre-order one. (she was partially convinced by the horrendous experience we had with the MiBox3 - has anyone else actually watched anything on Netflix with that device? We couldn't, it always gave an error).
    I am also really looking forward to the Asus C302. Hoping I can convince my work to get me one for writing.
  • Definition of an oxymoron: "potentially disruptive Chromebook."
  • thumbs up emoji!
  • LOL! What have you got agianst Chromebooks?
  • Is VR dead yet? Gone the way of 3d tvs
  • Okay VR is way cooler than 3D TV's lol. So far though it only seems cool on ps4. I don't even wanna try on my phone.
  • That's my fear on the new blackberry. At this point I type faster on my phone than even a computer keyboard,my typing is in sync with my words as I think them. However on the physical keyboards it generally took me a minute to type two sentences. I just never got the hang of it and it honestly hurt my thumbs more often than not. Still though I'd love to give the phone a try for the sake of a change of pace. I probably wouldn't be able to do a full year with it,but if it has good battery life I'd be more willing to try.
  • I have the same experience with virtual/non-physical keyboard. I became a faster tiper and my thumbs weren't sore.
  • So nothing interesting on the Android Wear 2.0 front? That's immensely disappointing. Where is Angelfish? Where is Huawei Watch 2?
  • There were a few watches announced that will run Android Wear 2.0, but Google hasn't made their big reveal yet. No rumors yet on a Huawei Watch 2.0