Today, Google held its #madebygoogle event in New York City and announced 3 new products. While none of these were particularly surprising since they had all been rumored for some time (some tech writers had already been sent some products to review), the announcement was still interesting. And while all three of the new products are primarily designed for home and general customer use, I can see some useful applications for us lawyers.

Google Home Hub: This is Google’s entry in the display screen and voice controlled device market and is a direct competitor to Amazon’s Echo Show. These devices allow you to speak to them and then respond both verbally-like Google Home and the Amazon Echo-but also with a display. Unlike the Show, however, Google Home Hub does not have a camera which insures greater privacy. Ask it questions and the Hub can tell and show you traffic, weather, display YouTube materials, recipes etc. 


What’s in for Lawyers: Plenty. Ask the Hub to show you certain documents and it could, with training, bring them up on its screen. It could enable you to ask it to show you emails and then respond to those emails using only your voice. No clicks. Ask it legal research questions and, someday combined with Google Scholar and other research engines like FastCase or CaseMaker, it could display you the answers. Ask it to find a court case and it could not only find it but display it.


Considering the price-$149-this may be a tool worth having.


The downside: confidentiality. Most of us are reluctant to use certain Google features because Google owns the underlying data, bringing into question confidentiality issues. But for general, non-confidential related work-for example, general research or background information- I can see some real uses for the Hub. Considering the price-$149-this may be a tool worth having.


Google Pixel Slate-This is Google’s latest entry into the tablet market (although Google would say it’s more than a tablet, I suppose). From the photos, it looks to be a nicely designed piece of hardware. Also demoed was a detachable good-looking keyboard (again from the photos, Google didn’t see fit to invite me to the event 😉). The screen is fully adjustable when used with the screen. Unfortunately, neither the price nor whether the price will include the keyboard was revealed.


So if you want a tablet and don’t what an iOS  or Microsoft product, this could be an option.


What’s In It For Lawyers: This is obviously designed to be a competitor to the iPad and Microsoft’s Surface Pro. It’s hard to see any real advantage, particularly since we don’t know the price. But I have owned a Google Nexus tablet for several years and always liked the way it worked and looked. It’s a good Android alternative to the Apple products. I suspect the Slate will be as well. So if you want a tablet and don’t what an iOS  or Microsoft product, this could be an option. Unless its really price competitive, its hard to say a big advantage of the Slate to the legal market.


Beyond the camera itself, there are two pretty cool features.


Pixel 3 Phone-The new Google phone has some interesting features. It will come in 2 sizes, a 5.5 inch and a 6.3 inch size to compete with the new iPhone Xs and Xs Max. Both Pixel sizes of course have edge to edge screens and OLED displays. Both have the standard front and rear facing camera.


Beyond the camera itself, there are two other pretty cool features.


The Pixel cameras over some cool features, however, that combine Google’s machine learning and rich data bank. For example, the Pixel camera offers the ability to take a series of photos with one click. Google then picks the best of a series of shots. This allows for a super zoom feature that will reportedly better control the granular nature zoom  photos. Pixel also has a night sight feature for better end results in low light.


Another camera feature is the combination of Google Lens with the camera which allows you to train the camera on an object and then have Google pull up information about that object. So, if you trained the camera on say an apple (no pun intended), Google would run that image through its data bank and provide you information on apples. It was not clear how robust this ability is at this point. Google is providing unlimited cloud photo storage with the phone purchase.


Beyond the camera itself, there are two pretty cool features. One is the ability to silence the phone just by putting it face down. Another feature: when your phone rings, Google can automatically answer it for you and ask who is calling. You can then determine if you want to take the call or send it to voice mail. Pretty nice.


And the price? $799


And the price? $799. Although it was not clear whether the price will be the same for both sizes


What’s In It For Lawyers: If indeed the cost will be $799 especially for both sizes, the Pixel may be a real competitor for iPhone. I really like the Google Lens feature since, if it works well, it could provide a lot of useful information for lawyers. Imagine being on a site inspection and being able to get background info about certain elements you are seeing? Or being able to train the camera on a physical exhibit and learn more about it? I am not sure if the Lens feature is quite this robust yet, but it’s a start.


I really like the idea of an answering service that lets you decide whether to take a call.


And I really like the idea of an answering service that lets you decide whether to take a call. There are many occasions when a call comes in, I don’t know who it is, and as a result I don’t answer it. It then goes to voice mail and turns out to be a client or someone important. I then try to call them back and we start playing phone tag. Google Screen Call solves this problem.


I also really like the ability to silence the phone merely by turning it face down. Many times, I silence my phone and then forget to un-silence it, missing calls and messages. Both these feature could be useful.


So there you have it. Like most Google events, this one was polished and entertaining. The other thing I liked about it: it was short, only an hour.


But at $149, the Hub seems a no brainer.


What will I do? I’m an Apple person so I doubt I will buy the Pixel. But I do like having an Android option to the iPad so depending on price, I might buy the Slate. But at $149, the Hub seems a no brainer.