Google is introducing a couple new products and also making some changes to their existing offerings. You’re probably wondering – didn’t we talk about Google enough last week during I/O? Apparently not. Now, don’t get me wrong, I think that Google is doing some great work, but I’m also wondering at what point there are too many products on the market? In many ways, Google is a monopoly, but they are constantly diversifying their product offerings, in a way that diverts your attention away from that concept. What am I talking about exactly?
To start, Google has launched a desktop version of its existing portal for travel planning, which will help to make it a lot easier to organize trips online. Google rolled out a mobile version of this last year, but I mean, who does their vacation planning on a mobile device only? The desktop version gives you access to flights, hotels, tour packages and other relevant information all in one place. The left-hand menu has tabs that give you access to each of those details. If you’re signed into your Google account, it can also give you trip suggestions based on your location and previous searches. Also, it can keep track of all the places and flights you’ve saved so you can go back to where you left off.
Once you’ve booked your hotel and flights, it will automatically add the information to your timelines. The portal will also keep a record of the hotels and activities you’ve looked at and saved. But, if you feel uncomfortable giving Google this much information about your trip, you can opt out by changing your “private results” and “web & app activity” settings.
And it doesn’t stop there! Google’s experimental Area 120 unit has released Rivet, which is an app for Android and iOS that aims to make reading practice both accessible and rewarding. The app offers more than 2,000 books ranked by difficulty, and uses speech technology to coach kids on their pronunciation. In addition, Rivet can read words or whole pages, highlighting words as it goes along. But it can also listen to a child’s own reading and offer feedback on the words that they may have mispronounced.
What’s great about Rivet is it is also gamified. Kids can earn points and badges, and the whole thing is customized with avatars, recommended books and themes. Area 120 promises “energizing games” and even “surprises” to help keep readers on their toes.
What might not surprise you is that privacy is extremely important. This is something we heard loud and clear at I/O last week. All the technology baked into the app is strictly within the device. The app also requires parental consent. Which means, that data is only used to improve the reading experience within the app. The app works on phones, tablets, and Android-friendly Chromebooks, although it’s only available in English in 11 countries (including the US, Canada, Australia, India, and South Africa).