OPINION: Google’s New “Intelligent” Clips Camera Is a Dumb Idea That Kills the Joys of Photography

We rarely use this space for opinion pieces, but Google’s new Clips camera really bugs me and I’m going to rant a bit, so please bear with me. Billed as “A new way to capture big moments and little ones,” Clips works in tandem with the Google Pixel 2 smartphone (as well as with Samsung’s S7/S8 and the iPhone 6 and up) to let you “shoot and share like never before.”

The idea here is that this $249 technological wonder uses artificial intelligence (AI) to recognize familiar faces, and handle exposure settings and composition, to capture still photos and short videos while users unwittingly go about their daily lives. And while Google says this device “gets smarter over time,” I think this a really dumb idea—at least for those of us who enjoy the art and craft of making compelling images.

The notion of a wearable camera is obviously not a new one, but Google makes no bones about taking AI technology to an absurd extreme, with a camera boasting a high-performance lens and image sensor that will even recognize your dogs and cats. Personally, if my photos are going to “focus on the ones who matter most,” with perfect results every time, I want some say in the process.

We’re going to share this rant on Shutterbug’s Facebook page in a bit, so head over there and let me know if there’s something I’m missing. In the meantime, take a look at the demo video  below. You can read more about the Clips camera on Google's website.