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5 Google product lines that need update announcements at Google I/O

Melissa Riofrio | May 28, 2015
Enough with the Wi-Fi balloons and self-driving cars. Five real-world Google products and services need fixing, especially with Microsoft stepping up its game.

2. Chromebooks lack good midpriced models

When Google launched Chromebooks, it emphasized small, inexpensive models to motivate sales. That worked great — in fact, small Chromebooks costing $300 or less remain popular with consumers and schools, and they're cutting deep into low-end Windows business.

What this strategy isn't doing, however, is advancing the category, especially among more sophisticated users who wouldn't be caught dead with an ARM-based slab of plastic. Google's own Chromebook Pixel isn't going to move the needle, because it's a high-end flagship few people can afford.

Nope, for Chromebooks to encroach further into Windows territory, they'll need to move up — into midpriced models with bigger displays, faster processors, and better builds than the little ones. HP has one or two...Acer has a 13-inch models and not one, but two15-inch models...but the choices remain slim.

The power users need a better Chromebook, Google. Please get on that now.

3. Google Glass needs a new vision

After a flashy start, Google Glass has foundered, as the company conceded earlier this year. Who cares whether Diane von Furstenberg has designed frames for it? No one's wearing Google Glass because it's embarrassing and there's nothing useful to do with it.

Meanwhile, back at Microsoft, a new product called HoloLens is blowing past Google Glass in capability and aspirations. It's not a real product yet, either, but it's a lot more compelling. Even its clunky look is arguably more acceptable because it doesn't try as hard to look fashion-forward as Google Glass did — in vain. Smartwatches are also offering some of the conveniences Glass promised, making it less intriguing than it was originally.

There's hope: News recently surfaced that the company's seeking new talent to reinvigorate Glass — more than 20 job postings to work on "smart eyewear and other related products." It's time to give Google Glass a new vision before it falls further behind in the wearable space. We hope to see progress sooner rather than later.

4. Google Hangouts needs to work. Period.

Google Hangouts was such a good idea! Anyone with a Google account, just hang out. It's the "easy" video conference platform!

Except...it's not. Or at least, it's not markedly better — Hangouts has just as many quirks and annoyances as any other so-called conferencing solution. PCWorld's editors have, for several years, tried and largely failed to use video Hangouts for staff meetings with remote users. Just when we think we've figured out all the kinks, something else goes awry. We know we're not the only grouchy survivors of a Hangout gone wrong.

Google has had a lot of time to make video Hangouts better. It could have made improvements when Skype conferencing was at its most vulnerable, but now Microsoft is relaunching Skype and Skype for Business. They won't be perfect either, but they'll probably still attract disillusioned Hangouts users.

 

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