Google Home and Assistant have seen a lot of attention over the past couple years, and while we didn't get any Home-specific announcements at I/O this time around, Google had plenty to say about the Assistant. Here are all of them!
What did Google announce for Google Home?
Google Home announcements at I/O were – non-existent.
It was announced that the first Smart Displays from Lenovo, JBL, and LG will begin shipping in July, but Google didn't have anything to say specifically about its own Home lineup. Those announcements will likely be coming in the fall at the company's hardware event, so stay tuned for that.
What did Google announce for Google Assistant?
With that said, there was plenty announced for the Google Assistant. Google announced that Assistant is currently being used on over 500 million devices, and by the end of 2018, will support 30+ languages in 80 different countries.
It can call businesses for you
Without a doubt, one of the biggest announcements from I/O was Google Duplex. Whether you want to call and book an appointment at a hair salon, make a reservation at a restaurant, or something else, the Assistant can actually call the business on your behalf and get everything squared away.
In one example, Google showed someone asking the Assistant to make them a haircut appointment on Tuesday morning anytime between 10 and 12. The Assistant will then call your desired salon, talk to the person on the other end, make the appointment, and then add it to your calendar.
Google Duplex is what powers this whole process, and it's downright fascinating to watch. The Assistant says "uh" and "um" just like a real person, can ask follow-up questions, and more. It's hard to explain just how bonkers this is myself, so do yourself a favor and watch the video above. It's crazy.
6 new voices
Google introduced a male voice for the Assistant last October, and starting today, you can now choose between six different voices to help give your Assistant a personal touch. From the Settings page in the Google app, tap on Settings under the Google Assistant page, tap on Preferences, and then Assistant voice.
The new voices are rolling out to users now, so if you still only see two options, give it some time and check again later.
Later this year, Google will also allow you to change your Assistant's voice to none other than John Legend's.
You can ask follow-up questions without having to say "Hey, Google" each time
Talking to the Google Assistant can be a lot of fun, but having to say "Ok, Google" or "Hey, Google" each time you want to ask or tell it something can get a mite annoying. With Continued Conversation, Google's changing that.
Continued Conversation will allow you to ask follow-up questions without having to say the Assistant's hot word again, meaning that after you say "Hey, Google, what's the weather like?", you can then just say "how about tomorrow?" and get a response. Google says this has been one of its most-requested features, and it's incredibly exciting to see it finally being added.
Ask for multiple things at once
Keeping with the trend of allowing for more natural conversations, the Google Assistant is also getting Multiple Actions. This will enable you to ask multiple things from the Assistant in one command, such as "What's the weather like in New York and Austin?".
Create your own custom Routines
This year, Google launched Routines for the Assistant – a new feature that enabled you to perform a variety of actions with just one command. These were previously limited to six pre-defined setups, but now Google's allowing you to create your own from the ground up.
You'll be able to create Routines using any of the Assistant's 1,000,000+ Actions and use whatever phrase you'd like. Along with this, Google will also soon let you schedule Routines to go off at a certain time or day.
Encourage politeness for kids
As part of Google's Family Link feature, Google will add a new feature to the Assistant called "Pretty Please." This will enable the Assistant to detect when your kid is speaking to it in a polite manner (such as saying "please" and "thank you"), and when it does, will reward them with some positive reinforcement.
New visuals for the Assistant on your phone
The Assistant is already incredibly helpful on our phones, but Google's working on taking things a step further with all-new visuals.
After opening the Assistant, you'll be able to swipe up to see contextual info about your day – such as the weather, upcoming calendar appointments, and more. Think of it as a revamped version of the Google Now page from yesteryear.
Along with this, you'll also find a lot of new visual elements throughout the rest of your Assistant experiences. Google's moving away from the current chat-style interface and adding full-screen visuals for just about everything. Asking the Assistant to turn down your heat will show interactive controls for further adjusting it, to-do list apps will provide a visual of your current list after adding something to it, and companies like Starbucks, Applebee's, and Doordash will allow for interactive pick-up and delivery menus.
When will these features be available?
There's a lot in the works for the Assistant, and this is when you can expect the above features to be available for you to play with.
- Google Duplex – Rolling out to users in the coming weeks as an experimental feature.
- New voices – The 6 new, generic ones are rolling out now. John Legend's is coming later this year.
- Continued Conversation – Google simply says that this will be available "soon."
- Multiple Actions – Rolling out to users now.
- Custom Routines – Customized Routines are available now; scheduled ones are coming later this summer.
- Pretty Please – Coming "later this year."
- New visuals on phones – Available later in the year.
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