NEW YORK — Google announced a lot of new bells and whistles Wednesday — several of which, it turns out, are already offered by rivals such as Amazon, Apple and Facebook.
These days, it’s not unusual to find tech giants and their plucky startup rivals copying each other’s tools and features — sometimes improving on them and sometimes just playing catch-up.
Echoing the echo
Google added features to its internet-connected Home speaker — such as hands-free calling. That echoes Amazon’s Echo speaker, which was released earlier and so has had more time to acquire a wider range of abilities.
Your seeing eye
Google’s new Lens tool is the stuff of science fiction. It lets people point their camera at things to find out more information about them. So if you see a flower, you can point your camera at it to find out its name. (The same, sadly, cannot be said for strangers you meet in a bar yet, unless he or she is a celebrity you didn’t’ recognize.)
Though not a competitor, Google’s slimmed-down phone operating system aimed at cheap Android phones is reminiscent of Facebook’s own “skinny” version, called Facebook Lite. Both are aimed at getting more people to use the company’s services, even if they live in developing countries and use cheap, older phones.
Meeting Siri on her turf
Google’s digital assistant is hoping to outsmart Siri on Apple’s iPhone. Google is releasing its voice-controlled assistant on a free app designed for iPhone’s operating system — basically competing with Apple’s assistant on her own turf.
The move extends the potential reach of Google’s assistant, which debuted last fall on the company’s Pixel phone and an internet-connected speaker called Home.
Google says new tools will encourage sharing of photos that you might have meant to share, but maybe forgot.
Google Photos will be able to suggest which photos to share and whom to share them with — for example, if the person is in the photo. The company envisions a world in which amazing photos are no longer left on people’s phones because other pressing things in life got in the way. (AP)