As I was watching the Made in Google ’19 keynote, it wasn’t the best-in-class camera system or the motion tracking chip that stirred my loins the most.
It was the Pixel 4’s Recorder app. A native voice recorder with ultra-accurate AI-driven transcription that even works in airplane mode? Be still, my heart.
Sure, there are a couple of transcription apps already available out there in the wild, but none of them are able to process speech-to-text entirely on a phone without needing an internet connection. You can imagine why it’s a godsend piece of tech for reporters who conduct interviews on the ground regularly and, like me, absolutely detest listening to their own voice during playback.
And what better way to test out Recorder than to immediately put it to use during the Made By Google media event yesterday (Oct 16)? In a brief one-on-one interview held with Martin Geh — Google Asia Pacific’s Managing Director for Hardware and Retail — the Pixel 4 unit I received faced its first challenge: accurately transcribe our conversation about the company’s hardware plans in the region and embracing the leaks.
This was our interview entirely captured and transcribed on the Recorder app. Left unedited as much as I could.
Ilyas: So yeah, so just that what are Google's plans about growing its hardware usage in the Southeast Asia region?
Martin: So we're very happy with the way we are in Singapore where we've launched the full range of Pixel as well as Nest devices.
Singapore is sort of the beacon for the rest of Southeast, Asia. We're working very hard. We have a lot of interest in passion to launch in more markets. We're in the process of seeing how we can bring them to more Southeast Asian markets. It may not always be Pixel and Nest at the same time.PHOTO: AsiaOne / Ilyas Sholihyn
Let me choose it may just be better for one to go first before the other comes next but we certainly like to. Eventually get there with all the all these markets in Southeast. Asia. Google is very active around Southeast Asia. Yeah, as you know, so we have a large huge base of very active users and it would be really nice to be able to give them more choices in the devices and the ways that the use services.
Ilyas: Services I'm sure Google has it pretty large across the whole world, not just Asia but hardware you sage it's I would say Google is a relatively new-ish.
Martin: Yeah, we've this is only three years in doing this. And we're still relatively new in the hardware world.PHOTO: AsiaOne / Ilyas Sholihyn
And the way we've chosen to do hardware is different. We've taken a different approach. What I said about hardware software and AI it's a very different approach. We're beginning to do demonstrate to the world what that means and we're getting some very good reactions. So we're going to take this forward further the implications are.
Ilyas: Very exciting. Yeah. Okay. Imagine like the typical Singaporean household, they wouldn't be necessarily aware of smart home devices and all that how would you convince like a regular Singaporean?
Martin: I would first start with. Disarming statement that. No one really. Wants a smart home because the terms my home itself is actually often misunderstood and becomes very very intimidating start with the concept of the things that you need to help you get things done at home. And therefore what helped you need right what helped do you need navigating through all of the different content that you're enjoying at home music videos IPTV YouTube, okay all of this right there's a big range of different possibilities.PHOTO: AsiaOne / Ilyas Sholihyn
Then there's a question of well do you have certain needs around monitoring babies pets the elderly children etc another area will be just controlled devices right you need to would you like to actually have remote control of your locks in the house certain appliances in the house different people have different needs and they may think well this one yeah.
What we found is usually if you start with music it's such a very easy way to get into the whole process of a helpful home right by being able to say play Hotel California and it just place. That's quite magical the first time it happens to you and then you realize you know, what I can say play this program on my living room TV and now today what we've announced is play that move that to my bedroom right my bedroom TV.PHOTO: AsiaOne / Ilyas Sholihyn
That's really helpful sometimes, your hands are full right or you're in the kitchen and you're cooking and your hands are really dirty and you can't touch the screen you just need to tell it, hey change the song set a timer convert 200 degrees Fahrenheit to Celsius I do that all the time at home, so I find that very helpful all right and it's not intrusive because I don't have to really go do anything different.
Ilyas: How would you convince a Singaporean? I, Phone user to switch to Pixel?
Martin: Well, you know. The great thing about Singapore is that people who live here use so many of our products and services already and Gmail YouTube maps search right every day photos they use it every day all these services are available on the iPhone so for Apple users there's never it's never a difficult choice they can have both. You can use an iPhone and you can use Google services.PHOTO: AsiaOne / Ilyas Sholihyn
Now if you want to use Google services in a more in a better-integrated way that allows you to then you need you need to move towards the way we do hardware the the Nest Mini speaker understands Singlish it knows the difference between a place and a person's name. These are things that as it becomes more helpful people find reasons to to to try more Google devices and services, they never have to give up what?
Ilyas: At this point in time is Google totally fine with leaks?
Martin: (Laughs) No but we do know that we are we we get a lot of attention from the world from the industry yeah a lot of that's a lot curiousity and that's why leaks get a lot of attention and that's why it's happened, right?
What we do our very best to actually prevent leaks. But we also know that you can't get rid of all of them right and so occasionally we've decided wait look we're gonna take a different perspective on this we're going to take a challenger mentality and say let's let's do something that nobody else does and once in a while we may go out there and confirm that hey, hey our new product actually does look like this yeah embracing the discussions that's right.PHOTO: AsiaOne / Ilyas Sholihyn
Ilyas: Okay, you probably don't know this but if you probably won't know this information but stadia in Singapore in Asia where?
Martin: We're just at the very beginning of Stadia right so certainly this year all the attention is is in the in the US and in Europe, we need to get that, right.
We we think would that this concept of stadia is is a winning concept but we need to get the main elements right there's a certain amount of priority for getting the right game titles getting the right infrastructure in place getting the right partnerships in place for each country, we're not going to rush into a market.
I would say Singapore is it's important for us. Where in discussion to understand the opportunity and Singapore for Stadia, but it's not something that we would do very soon.PHOTO: AsiaOne / Ilyas Sholihyn