Of all the things that Google launched today, Google Clips is probably the thing I’m most on the fence about. It’s supposed to be this GoPro-smartphone-like camera that takes the photographer out of photography.
How? Well, it’s Google so it’s obviously going to be with machine learning.
First and foremost, Clips is a camera, but it’s not one that’s designed for you to shoot with. Instead, Google wants you to put this camera down (or clip it to something), face it towards the action and leave the capturing to the AI that’s built in. Apparently, Clips is even smart enough to recognise faces (and pets!) over time so it can do its job of capturing precious moments in your life a little better. There is still a button that you can press to force it to capture something if you want to.
Once you’ve done whatever you want to do, all the footage that Clips records is then accessible through the app on your smartphone. Clips records short 7-second, uh, clips, that are presented to you on the phone app in a timeline. Users can then swipe right or left to save or discard the recorded clips. This also helps the camera figure out what kind of footage you want it to record the next time you set Clips up. If you want still photos, you can tap into each clip and scrub through the frames to select the picture perfect moment you want to save.
But this also means that when you set the camera down and turn it on, it’s always watching and looking out for moments to record, and that can be a little scary or, at the very least, a little creepy. Google understands that — or at least they say they do — so they’ve built in several features to help alleviate the always-watching anxiety.
First, it’s very obviously a camera. With the square body and protruding lens, it actually looks a little like the Instagram icon, so users and the people around them all know that the device is a camera. It’s not disguising itself as a pair of sunglasses or a stuffed animal. Plus, it also looks pretty adorable and we all know cute things are less threatening…right?
Next, when the device is on, there is an LED in front that will blink to let you know that it’s actively looking around for something to record. It also doesn’t have a microphone so it won’t be able to “hear” you if that helps.
Finally, Google says everything is done locally. The image recognition, facial recognition, recording and storing (files are encrypted). Nothing goes to the cloud or gets sent back to Google and everything will only be shared when you want it to.
How does it fare as a camera, you ask? Well, I don’t know, but I think you can expect something along the lines of the kind of performance you can get out of a smartphone. It’s got a 12MP sensor with 1.55-micron pixels and a 130-degree wide-angle lens. From what I’ve seen, it’s kind of like a watered down GoPro in terms of image quality. It has 16GB of onboard storage and has a 3-hour smart capture battery life which means it should last several days of mixed standby and capture usage.
I’m not sure what to think of Google Clips because it’s something I haven’t seen before yet. It’s a new take on capturing moments and I think it’s good that Google’s trying something fresh. Will it work? Will it be creepy? Is it a big waste of money for USD249 (around RM1,051)? Those are all questions that can only be answered after a full review.
What do you think of Google Clips? Let me know in the comments below.