Google Clips

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Google Clips
Google Clips camera text
Type Wireless Smart Camera
Launch Date February 27, 2018
Status Active
Product Line Google Clips camera, Google Clips app
Platform Google
Website Google Clips Store

Google Clips camera is a smart camera that automatically captures short, seven second motion photos with the use of artificial intelligence. The Clips camera features a machine learning algorithm called Moment IQ, to recognize great expressions, lighting and framing to capture images[1]. It’s slogan: Shoot, save and share like never before[2]. The camera has the ability to recognize familiar faces and over time, remember them.

The camera was released on February 27, 2018 to the market with a starting price of $249.00. With a purchase of the camera consumers receive a Google Clips camera, clip stand, USB cable, and user guide. A list of retailers include [3]:

  • Best Buy
  • Verizon
  • B&H
  • Google Store

Google's attempt to enter the Artificial Intelligence market has received backlash from users and critics because of the ethical concerns the Clips camera raises regarding privacy and surveillance.


Clips allows for hands-free photography

The philosophy behind the Google Clips camera is to solve the many pain areas parents of children and pets face in regards to capturing photos. Some of the problems solved are [4]:

  • Parents of children or pets are never included in the photograph
  • Babies and toddlers get distracted when a photograph is being taken
  • Difficulty predicting photo-worthy moments
  • Too many photographs to edit
  • All photos and videos are taken from the same angle

The camera gives users a hands-free approach to taking photos, allowing them to be featured in the photo.


Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence (Al) is "the theory and development of computer systems able to perform tasks that normally require human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making, and translation between languages." [5]

Face Detection

Google Clips runs face-matching algorithms locally to detect which faces are more “interesting”, so that over time, it will be trained to take more photos of them. Users can also push the shutter button on the front of the camera to take a direct portrait of someone they want the Clips camera to remember and prioritize. The camera will attempt to not take photos of people it doesn’t recognize, but its accuracy is not one hundred percent. Clips does not know who the faces are like the way Google Photos does, but it knows that the faces are relevant. Google takes this data to automatically capture a sequence when, for example, kids are in front of the camera and doing something photogenic. Google’s algorithms have yet to identify individual pets, so the device looks for anything it can recognize as an animal and captures it[6].

Unpredictable results

The artificial intelligence of the device has yet to be perfected. Many users have complained that the camera was unpredictable with the shots that it captured[7]. Additionally, many of the shots had motion blur, as the camera could not capture the action shot as a still frame.

Technical Specifications [8]

Operating System: Android 7.0 Nougat or higher

Dimensions: Length: 2.0 in (50mm), Width: 2.0 in (50mm), Height: 0.8 in (20mm)

Weight: Without clip: 1.5oz (42g), With clip: 2.2oz (61g), Clip: 0.7oz (19g)

Camera: Motion photos (JPEGs with embedded MP4s, MP4, GIF, JPEG. No audio), Fixed focus, 1.55 μm pixels, Low Lux/Night Mode: Auto, 130-degree field of view, 16 GB storage

Wireless: Wi-Fi Direct, Bluetooth LE

Port: Single USB-C

Color: White

Battery: Up to 3 hours of smart capture, USB-C charging type
Google Clips app (source)

Google Clips app

The Google Clips camera is accompanied by the Google Clips app, which allows users to manage the camera right from the app. Some of the basic capabilities of the application include [9]:

  • Set up Google Clips camera
  • Quickly transfer clips over Wi-Fi from the camera to an android or iOS compatible mobile phone
  • View and edit clips to select favorite moments
  • Export and share clips directly from the app to friends and family (on the iPhone, the clip is converted into a live photo)

The application also has a few unique features such as [10]:

  • Suggested moments: highlights some of the camera’s best clips for users
  • Live preview: see a live preview of the camera's point of view because the Clip's camera has no screen
  • Remote capture: manually trigger specific moments on the Google Clips camera directly from the phone

Ethical Concerns


Google is aware of the privacy implications the device faces. Some preventative measures the company has taken are: [11]

  • Clips doesn’t record sound with its video
  • Linking the Clips camera to users’ Photos account doesn’t put anything new in the cloud. Its intelligence lives on the camera hardware not the cloud.
  • Clips is not and can not be connected to the internet
  • Clips camera runs the face-matching algorithms locally or users can manually take a portrait of someone for Clips to remember
  • Google does not use user’s data or choices to determine which clips are to be kept or deleted to improve its algorithm
  • All data on the camera is encrypted, so if the device is lost, the thief won’t be able to see any photos or facial recognition on it

Public Opinion

When Google Clips was first announced in October, people were quick to bash the device. Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX and Tesla, Inc., tweeted “This doesn’t even seem innocent”. Other people were quick to call it “the creepy surveillance contraption in Dave Eggers’s Silicon Valley horror “The Circle”. Google stated that the device was purposely designed to clearly look like a camera, so that it wouldn’t be interpreted as a spy camera, but that still hasn't stopped the public from calling it "creepy". [12]

Google has taken care to respect the ethical and moral concerns its customers have with this new product. The choices Google has made directly represent Floridi's onto-centric approach of moral pateints. Onto-centric means that objects, like Google Clips, has the right to at least a minimal level of respect[13] since Google has been open in their attempt to combat common ethical challenges.


  1. “Google Clips.” Google Store, Google,
  2. “Google Clips.” Google Store, Google,
  3. Martonik, Andrew. “Google Clips AI-Powered Camera Now on Sale for $249 from Multiple Retailers.” Android Central, Android Central, 27 Feb. 2018,
  4. “Google Clips Uses AI to Snap Pictures of Your Kids and Pets - Sort Of.” Yahoo! Finance, Yahoo!, 1 Mar. 2018,
  5. “Artificial Intelligence.” Merriam-Webster
  6. Seifert, Dan. “Google Clips Review: a Smart Camera That Doesn't Make the Grade.” The Verge, The Verge, 27 Feb. 2018,
  7. Low, Cherlynn. “Google Clips Review: A Smart, but Unpredictable Camera.” Engadget, 27 Feb. 2018,
  8. “Google Clips.” Google Store, Google,
  9. “Google Clips Uses AI to Snap Pictures of Your Kids and Pets - Sort Of.” Yahoo! Finance, Yahoo!, 1 Mar. 2018,
  10. “Google Clips Uses AI to Snap Pictures of Your Kids and Pets - Sort Of.” Yahoo! Finance, Yahoo!, 1 Mar. 2018,
  11. Seifert, Dan. “Google Clips Review: a Smart Camera That Doesn't Make the Grade.” The Verge, The Verge, 27 Feb. 2018,
  12. Fowler, Geoffrey A. “Review | Google's First Camera Isn't an Evil All-Seeing Eye. Yet.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 27 Feb. 2018,
  13. Floridi, Luciano.Cambridge Handbook, Chapter 5, “Information ethics”