Google merging Android and hardware teams to infuse AI in everything

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Google is merging its Android OS (Operating System) and product hardware teams. The “super-team” will collaborate and build AI (Artificial Intelligence) in nearly all categories of products, including smartphones, TVs, watches, and more.

Google merging Android and hardware into “Platforms and Devices”

Google CEO Sundar Pichai announced a major restructuring at Google. The most notable change would undoubtedly be the merger of Android as a platform and hardware as a product.

The new team, called “Platforms and Devices”, will reportedly oversee all of Google’s Pixel products, all of Android, Chrome, ChromeOS, Photos, and more.

Rick Osterloh, who was previously the SVP of devices and services, will head this super-team. He was leading Google’s hardware, including Pixel smartphones.

Hiroshi Lockheimer will be taking on other projects inside of Google and Alphabet. It is not clear why Google shifted him out of software platforms. He has been a key figure at the company and was instrumental in developing Android, Chrome, and ChromeOS.

This change or “consolidation” as Osterloh calls it, is meant to improve the infusion and deployment of AI within Google’s products. “Consolidating teams helps us to be able to do full-stack innovation when that’s necessary,” he said.

Some of the most notable hardware aspects that benefit tremendously from AI and ML (Machine Learning) are synthetic vision (digital camera) and GPUs (Graphics Processing Units). The Pixel Camera is one of the biggest beneficiaries of rapid developments in AI.

Osterloh even pointed to Google’s in-house Tensor GPUs. Although nowhere near NVIDIA’s GPUs, Google Tensor is rapidly scaling new heights in on-device AI processing.

AI will help Google improve Android update speed

There’s no doubt that Google has been a little late to the AI party. Microsoft is currently ahead with OpenAI’s ChatGPT, but Google has Android OS. Needless to say, Google owns the world’s most widely used OS and offers services that run on millions of actively-used devices.

Owing to the new team, AI should make deeper inroads into Android. Google may ask this new super-team to rapidly deploy, tweak, and improve AI in Android Auto, Wear OS, and ChromeOS.

Google is already busy embedding its Gemini AI and chatbot in nearly every imaginable product. Hence, almost every device that runs Android OS or its fork, could have some form of AI soon.

Osterloh hinted that one of Google’s aims is to “make everything faster”. This also includes accelerating Android updates. “We can’t airdrop a new SOC into existing products, but we can design for longevity, and then update our software frequently,” he reasoned.

The new Platforms and Devices team, born from merging Android and hardware, seems to be Google’s attempt at running a tight ship. Perhaps, this integrated and consolidated approach might help Google reduce the number of products it kills.