Google Area 120

Google Reduces Area 120, Concentrates On ‘AI-First’ Projects

Google Area 120
Google Reduces Area 120

Google is halving Google Area 120 and focusing on “AI-first” projects.
Area 120 has been Google’s “in-house incubator” since 2016, allowing employees to work on experimental ideas full time, but not just in “20% time.” The division created features like smart responses on Android and Game Snacks in Android Auto and Chrome.

Moreover, Google is halving Area 120’s employees. Area 120’s 14 experimental projects have been reduced to seven, with the others discontinued.

Google Area 120 employees on Tuesday they have until January 2023 to find a new job. This is usual when Google closes a division, as with Stadia Games and Entertainment last year.
Only one of the seven cancelled Area 120 projects, Qaya, started publicly. Three shelved climate-related initiatives were an EV charging station map, a carbon accounting application, and a forest carbon measurement method. The others were a shopping app, an AR/VR analytics tool, and a Google Sheets accounting app.

Google Area 120 head Elias Roman will refocus the division on “AI-first projects” The latest “Aloud” app that dubs YouTube videos into several languages may be a sign to what AI and machine learning initiatives Google wants to continue.

Area 120’s “reduction in force” is likely tied to Google’s employment slowdown for 2022 and the July-August freeze. Google CEO Sundar Pichai said the corporation “should eliminate distractions and raise the bar on product excellence and productivity.”

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