Google unveiled a whole bunch of products last October, including the Pixel 2 smartphone, the Google Home Mini and Max speakers, and the Google Pixelbook laptop. And most of them have been available for purchase for a while.

And then there’s Google Clips, a $249 connected camera designed to snap pictures and shoot short videos all day and sync with a smartphone app so you can find and share the best shots.

It’s an odd little device that could be really cool in some circumstances, or really creepy in others. And it’s been unavailable so far… but last night Google started taking orders for Google Clips, with estimated ship dates in February and March.

When I checked the Google Store this morning, there was a “join the waitlist” button rather than a “buy” button, so it looks like Google may have taken all the pre-orders it can handle right now.

What’s not clear is whether that means there’s strong demand for the product, or maybe just stronger-than-anticipated demand. For all we know, Google had only planned to manufacturer a few hundred units and they sold out quickly. Sure, that doesn’t seem likely, but it’s possible, right?

After all, who wants to spend $249 on a camera that only shoots still photos and 7 second videos, and only has 3 hours of battery life?

Actually, there are some people who fit the bill… parents of young children are probably at the top of the list. Sure, parents already probably pull out their phone or camera to snap pictures pretty frequently as their kids grow up. But a device like Google Clips could help make sure that you’re capturing interesting moments all the time… without your having to face them through the viewfinder of a camera. It’s a lot easier to be in the shot (and in the moment) if you’re not behind the camera.

Is that worth spending $249 on? I guess it depends on how much money you’ve got lying around… and how well Google delivers on its promise that Google Clips will use machine learning to capture the best moments featuring the people and pets that matter most to you.

via Android Police and 9to5Google


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12 replies on “Google Clips camera set to start shipping in February”

  1. Yeah, what traditionally has been a family member with a camera being substituted by “machine learning” is creepy.

    But I think what bugs me more is the way Google is selling this as “why bother taking your own photos of your children when a machine can do it for you?” I mean using machines to do things people don’t want to do (such as mindless repetitive tasks) is one thing, but this seems very different from that.

    1. I’d never use this because of the Google creep factor but I can see younger parents who grew up more or less constantly recorded and have their lives posted to the Internet for all to see using this. So parents who don’t feel creeped out by Google plus many of them seem to want to take photos/videos of their kids 24/7 might like this to supplement their manual photo/video taking.

      I can also see this device coming from Facebook or at least a device with Facebook sharing support (also assuming people aren’t creeped out). Seems more fitting than from Google.

    1. Well, not really…

      Excerpt: “Where the AI comes in: It is important to stress here that the camera isn’t continually shooting and saving pictures, or taking them at set intervals. Rather, it is making value judgments about the shots it selects. It effectively acts as a personalized photo editor… What’s also compelling about this, from both a privacy and performance perspective, is that all this happens in the camera itself. And because this happens in the camera, it means that it can get better battery performance than it would if it were processing in the cloud. It doesn’t expend resources transferring data to and from a remote server to be processed.”

      The above linked article cites Blaise Aguera y Arcas, a principal scientist (working) with Google’s machine intelligence.

      1. Let’s ignore that you’re referencing BuzzFeed.

        That article says the camera is always on and continuously judges if what it sees should be saved to memory. Sounds like it’s always watching you unless you turn the device off or physically cover the camera.

        Yup, still super creepy.

        1. “Let’s ignore that you’re referencing BuzzFeed.”

          Let’s ignore that you didn’t read my post Tim. Notice how I specifically called out the Google employee cited by the BuzzFeed author? Sheesh…

        2. The camera may be on all the time but it is NOT necessarily recording all the time. I replied to this specific post which says the camera is always RECORDING: “I hear this is always recording. Creepy.”

  2. I think a lot of people are missing the point. You can get other cameras for the same money sure. And they might have longer battery life or more capability for video, etc… But what pretty much none of them do is take pictures for you.
    And sure you can just shoot 4k video and then go back and pick out the stills you want. So at the end of whatever xyz activity you can just go and sit at a desk and scrub through several hours of video and pull them out and fix them up and whatnot.
    What this is doing is two things.
    1. Allowing everyone to potentially be in the shot as nobody has to be working the camera. Even if you are not in the shot you can be in the moment rather than worrying about taking a pic.
    2. Do it automatically and deliver some decent interesting shots that you don’t have to do much work to get.
    If it works well then I can see a lot of people going for it actually.
    It’s basically a robo-photographer.

    The other thing many will like is that all the processing is taking place on-device and not in the cloud. So the tinfoil hat brigade will be happy. It also has a manual shutter cover I think.

    So is it doing something different and worth $249. The value depends on you and your wallet but it is definitely doing something different.

    1. The “having everybody in the shot” problem was solved with the first camera to ship with a shutter timer.

      This product’s real purpose is probably more of a stepping stone for future AI development. I think Google wants free beta testers so they are selling this obviously beta device to anyone who will volunteer and hand over the $249.

  3. Who wants to spend $249 on a camera that only shoots still photos and 7 second videos, and only has 3 hours of battery life? I would guess one can buy a better DLR Pocket camera for this same money.

  4. Maybe Google is just trying to get in on that lucrative “we’ll buy anything no matter how useless and the more expensive the better” iPhone market.

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