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Google CEO Sundar Pichai, speaking Tuesday at Google's I/O developer conference. Photo: Google

If you tuned into to Google's two-hour I/O keynote on Tuesday, you heard about a whole slew of new products, features and technologies under development. You also heard the sound of Big Tech trying to turn the page after a year dominated by criticisms, hearings and investigations.

Why it matters: Innovation is tech's unifying tenet, and conferences like I/O give the industry giants a chance to put their best foot forward, highlighting areas where technology can do things that people alone can't.

Driving the news: Google managed to capture the imagination several times during its long keynote, including with a demo of a lifelike full-size video conferencing station that lets people chat remotely while feeling as if they are face to face.

  • Also mixed in among the many announcements at I/O (see below) was a new medical app that can help diagnose diseases of the skin, nails and hair. Google also talked up its efforts to move its offices and data centers exclusively to clean energy.

The big picture: Many tech companies scaled back or scrapped last year's developer conferences. Big industry events were also canceled, with most tech companies just trying to get products out the door amid a distributed workforce and significant supply chain challenges.

  • At the same time, the regulatory environment around the world grew more aggressive toward Big Tech, with a investigations launched against multiple companies in the U.S., Europe and beyond.

The hunger to get back to talking about products goes beyond Google.

  • Earlier this month, the Information reported that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has decided to shift this year from defending the company's misinformation and privacy policies to talking up its new products.

Between the lines: The companies can't totally change the conversation. But highlighting the positive could buttress their images in the court of public opinion, which often takes a more favorable view of tech than those in D.C. and other political centers of power.

What's next: Apple holds its big developer conference, known as WWDC, June 7–11.

Go deeper

Robinhood's IPO came amid a regulatory storm

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Robinhood, best known for its popular no-fee stock trading app, went public last Thursday while facing an unusually large legal and regulatory storm.

Why it matters: While some challenges will likely resolve, others could seriously maim the company, forcing it to right its business ship under the scrutiny and pressures of the public markets.

Ina Fried, author of Login
1 hour ago - Technology

Intel CEO sees making own chips as a matter of national security

Pat Gelsinger. Photo: Axios on HBO

Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger is putting the pressure on the U.S. government to help subsidize chip manufacturing, insisting the current reliance on plants in Taiwan and Korea as "geopolitically unstable."

Why it matters: There is bipartisan support for funding the domestic semiconductor industry, but Congress has yet to sign the check. The Senate has passed the CHIPS Act that includes $52 billion in semiconductor investment, but it has yet to pass the House.

Updated 1 hour ago - World

17 U.S. and Canadian missionaries kidnapped in Haiti

Haitian soldiers guard the public prosecutor's office in Port-au-Prince this month. Photo: Richard Pierrin/AFP via Getty Images

Children are among a group of 17 missionaries kidnapped in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, per a statement from Christian Aid Ministries Sunday.

The latest: "The group of 16 U.S citizens and one Canadian citizen includes five men, seven women, and five children," the Ohio-based group said. Haitian police inspector Frantz Champagne on Sunday identified the 400 Mawozo gang as the group responsible, in a statement to AP.