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Home / Features / Google’s 2022 in review: the good, the bad, and the cancelled

Google’s 2022 in review: the good, the bad, and the cancelled

From shiny new hardware to more killed services

Google 2022 year in review

It hasn’t exactly been a year to remember, has it? Unless you’re an Argentinian football fan, maybe. Thankfully the tech world gave us a few reasons to be cheerful – as well as a handful of reasons not to be, admittedly. One of the biggest needle-movers over the last twelve months was Google, releasing lots of new hardware as well as a helping hand of software updates.

But was it a net win for Big G – or did it trip over more times than not? Here’s our end-of-year Google review. Have your party poppers primed for the highlights, and be ready with the boos for the stories we’d rather let fade away into history.

The Good

Pixel phones continue Google’s algorithmic camera excellence

Google Pixel 7 display

After giving its phone range a major design overhaul last year, we didn’t know what the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro would do to shake things up even further. It turns out they didn’t, really – but a familiar design and more powerful internals aren’t to be sniffed at when the price stayed the same as the previous generation. Camera quality was where the biggest gains were made, with better algorithmic zoom abilities making us question the need for dedicated telephoto lenses.

Pixel 6a proved budget blowers can still compete – mostly


With the cost of living climbing ever skywards, it was refreshing to see Google stick with a sensible price point for its latest A-series smartphone – and not skimp on the spec sheet, either. The 6a arrived with the same flagship-tier CPU as the mainstream Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro, along with the now-familiar styling that made the £400 blower feel like a much pricier model. Even more impressive was its ability to take a stonkingly good photo. Nothing else at this price came close to matching it for all-round ability, at least in the Android world.

Android 13 rollout begins

Android 13 beta 2 features collage

A big new version of Android is always worth celebrating, but especially if you’re a tablet owner – or plan on picking up a foldable phone in 2023. Android 13 brought many of the big screen tweaks tested in the spin-off Android 12L, making multitasking much easier and adding a MacOS-like icon dock to make swapping between apps a breeze. Other improvements focused on privacy, security and small quality-of-life changes, but all are worth having. Third party phone-makers were quicker off the mark than in previous years, too – although many were still waiting for their updates to appear at the time of writing.

We also liked:

  • More years of update support – Google is partly responsible, along with chipmaker Qualcomm, for helping boost the number of years Android phone owners can expect to keep their handsets for. It was already a given on Pixel phones, but now many other brands can now claim four years of security updates, and at least three major Android versions.
  • Pixel Buds Pro take the fight to Airpods – active noise cancellation finally gave Google a pair of true wireless in-ears to challenge the mighty AirPods Pros. A fun sound signature, wireless charging and decent battery life all impressed for the price. And while they didn’t have spatial audio at launch, the Pixel Buds Pro are due an OTA update shortly.

The Bad

Pixel Watch is a mixed bag

Google Pixel Watch verdict

The first Pixel-branded smartwatch landed years after Google started developing wearable-specific software, so expectations were high. The Apple Watch is basically the de facto smartwatch, with Samsung a distant second place – would the Pixel Watch close the gap? To put it bluntly, no. It would not. The single size option put off some, while the less-than-one-day of battery life dissuaded others. The eyebrow-raising prices of some of the official straps and bands also set alarm bells ringing. It’s a competent smartwatch, with excellent sleep tracking and generally reliable fitness data, but it very much feels like a first try.

Pixel 6a stuck at 60Hz

Google Pixel 6a lock screen

Refresh rate was the Pixel 6a’s one major fail, and one that’ll have a certain portion of the Android world up in arms. “Why buy a Pixel when the Nothing Phone 1 does 120Hz for the same price?” was a common Reddit argument at launch. Software developers even managed to find a way to force Google’s budget phone to run at 90Hz, matching the pricier Pixel 7 and proving it wasn’t a hardware limitation. When the rest of the phone was a slam dunk, it was a shame to see Google on the back foot over a single line in the spec sheet.

We also didn’t like:

  • Pixel Tablet is a headscratcher – Google teased its upcoming slate at its I/O conference, but we were none the wiser as to who will buy one once it arrives. The home-focused device seems to be a Nest Hub you can detach to watch movies on the sofa, but surely most people who want a tablet already have one by now?
  • Google’s AI convinced an employee it was sentient – look, we’re not ready for a Terminator style future just yet, OK? We’re not saying Google fired the engineer who claimed the work-in-progress LaMDA had achieved consciousness because he was exposing some grand conspiracy. But we’re not not saying that, either.

The Cancelled

Google Stadia is put out to pasture

Google Stadia RIP

Surprisingly, given much of the tech press had been predicting Stadia’s downfall pretty much as soon as Google announced the thing, its cancellation really did come out of the blue. Pretty much everyone involved with the cloud gaming service, from Google’s hardware division to third party game developers were in the dark right up until the plug was pulled. The Chromebook team was literally days from announcing cloud gaming-focused models, which would have had Stadia front-and-centre.

Google is renowned for axing projects it considers to be struggling, but even so, Stadia’s death was a swift and shocking one. Gamers all got refunds (in fairly quick time, it has to be said), but devs dedicated to the platform were left out in the cold. Xbox, Nvidia and to a lesser extent Amazon now have one less rival, and YouTube Gaming is really Google’s last remaining toe dipped in the pool of the wider games industry.

Also cancelled this year:

  • YouTube Originals: Kobra Kai might have been a slice of retro fun, but YouTube’s original content wing never really produced anything of note since its launch in 2016. It had long since pivoted to focus on content creators, but Google finally gave up on it altogether at the start of the year.

Related: Google Pixel 8 preview – specs, price and release date rumours

Profile image of Tom Morgan-Freelander Tom Morgan-Freelander Deputy Editor


A tech addict from about the age of three (seriously, he's got the VHS tapes to prove it), Tom's been writing about gadgets, games and everything in between for the past decade, with a slight diversion into the world of automotive in between. As Deputy Editor, Tom keeps the website ticking along, jam-packed with the hottest gadget news and reviews.  When he's not on the road attending launch events, you can usually find him scouring the web for the latest news, to feed Stuff readers' insatiable appetite for tech.

Areas of expertise

Smartphones/tablets/computing, cameras, home cinema, automotive, virtual reality, gaming

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