The overhaul to the popular voice assistant comes as a move to make it smarter and compete with the recent upgrades Siri and Alexa have received.
At its annual developer I/O conference in California, Google stressed on how important the Google Assistant has been in the growth of the company ever since it was announced a couple years ago. In what is supposed to arrive on our Android phones, the Google Assistant would soon be able to make calls in its own human-like voice and make scheduled routines with the addition of six new voices to its database.
Focusing on how Artificial Intelligence has changed the way of computing in the recent age, Google announced that its Assistant will now be more “naturally conversational, visually assistive, and helpful”. Users would no longer need to keep on repeating “Hey, Google” as the Assistant will now work towards building a natural conversation. The language will be easier to interact with that you might be able to get an answer to your weather queries by just asking “Will it be cats and dogs today?” the Assistant will also be able to distinguish between scenarios where you’re talking to someone else and will respond only when it senses that you need the Assistant to pop up.
The highlight of this update is the addition of six new voices to choose from and with this Google Assistant now matches the voice range of Siri which has different voices categorized into genders and regions. Making use of WaveNet technology, the Assistant has managed to learn new voices with one of them being borrowed from John Legend.
Another massive feature is the inclusion of scheduled and custom Routines which will let users create their own set of Routine using Google’s combination of actions. Telling Google “dinner’s ready” would thus turn off the TV at your house and broadcast “Time for Dinner” to all Google Home or Android devices in the house. These Custom Routines would also be available to a user to set for a particular time or day which the Google Assistant can be asked to perform.
The Assistant also makes its way to Google Maps as commuters would now be able to use the voice assistant to get an ETA to reach a destination, play music and send a text when within the Maps app.
Possibly the biggest update for Google Assistant this year is Google Duplex. The new technology will allow users to set a date and time at which the Assistant would be able to call a restaurant or your favourite salon to make a reservation for you. The feature doesn’t just mean that the Assistant will be a reservation for your online, but will notify your entry to the businesses concerned over a phone call. Duplex will boost small-scale businesses which still rely on phone calls to make room for appointments. Once an appointment is set, Google Assistant will add a calendar event and notify you about the same.
With this announcement, Google also added that it’s aiming to bring the Assistant to a total of 80 countries by the end of 2018 including 7 new countries to the list. For Android Go phones that run on Android Oreo, the Google Assistant can now be accessed in Spanish. The voice assistant can also be accessed through headphones and some of these features are already live on the Google Assistant app on Android and iOS.