Google is in Vegas for CES because everyone's in Vegas for CES, and while Google itself didn't have much new hardware to show off, it did bring a heaping helping of helpful new features for Google Assistant, including an update rolling out today that will bring Google Assistant to Google Maps.
"Wait, Google Assistant already works with Google Maps, right?" Yes, Google Assistant could call up Google Maps or load a driving destination for you, but once you started driving, what it could do for you was pretty limited. For instance, you couldn't use Google Assistant to share your location/trip progress in Google Maps, you had to tap through the menus and do it yourself, and if you wanted to share your arrival time, you'd have to remember the Google Maps estimation while exiting Maps and using the "Send a text" Google Assistant command.
Today's update promises to fix these issues, allowing you to complete more tasks hands-free:
- Share your ETA with friends — Google Assistant will calculate your ETA from Google Maps and send it via text
- Safely reply via dictation to messages from Android Messages, Hangouts, WhatsApp, Messenger, Telegram, Viber, and SMS
- Control your music or podcasts to cover the din of the road noise
- Look for gas, food, and other destinations along your route
- Add a new stopping point to your route
This improved integration will be a handy thing whether you're just making a detour from your daily commute or off on a cross-country vacation, and seriously, Google couldn't give this to us two weeks ago for the hectic holiday drives everyone just made through sleet, snow, and storms??
Google says the update is "starting to roll out today" on Android and iOS, but as Google Assistant's commands are mostly controlled server-side, it's not clear if the update will arrive with an app update or just start working as you drive home.
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