Google Assistant: all new features

Google Assistant: all new features
The Google Assistant was originally launched two years ago at Google's annual developer conference in 2016, and since then Google has switched its focus heavily to artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning.

Today, at Google I/O 2018, Google has spent a large chunk of the presentation to talk through all the new features coming to the Google Assistant, which is becoming clearly a more and more important product for the company.

And there are some genuinely exciting new features coming to the Assistant. Let's take a look.

New, more natural voices



Google's chief executive officer Sundar Pichai said that one of the biggest goals going forward with the Google Assistant is to make it “matural and comfortable to talk to” and as part of this initiative Google has stepped up its game with new voices for the Assistant.

While the original voice of the Assistant was codenamed Holly and was actually a real person sitting in a studio for countless hours, recording various audio requests and answers, now, Google is able to use breakthroughs from its machine learning DeepMind team to basically make artificial voices that sound real. The technology uses the WaveNet feature from the DeepMind team at Google.

The big news is that as of today, the Google Assistant is getting 6 new voices with different accents and tonalities, and it's up to you to choose a favorite. The goal is to get the right accents globally eventually, and this is a start.

In other exciting news, one of the most-loved voices of the nation, John Legend, is the new voice of the Google Assistant. The singer and song-writer did not sit for countless hours doing voice recordings, but instead his voice was used and modified with the WaveNet technology. So John Legend will be coming as a voice for the Google Assistant later this year for certain contexts.

You no longer need to say “Hey, Google”



If you've used the Assistant extensively, you already know how tiring it gets to keep on repeating "hey, Google" tens of times. Google heard your concerns and with a new feature it calls "Continued Conversation" you can now just speak to the Assistant without having to repeat the "hey, Google" keyword every single time.

You’d be able to turn "Continued Conersation" on in the coming weeks.

Multiple actions


Another extremely complex feature made simply with the newest version of the Assistant is something called "Multiple Actions". It's one thing to be able to hear an "and" to see when you have requests that need to be processed separately, but what if the "and" is just meant to indicate the two rival teams in a basketball game and you don't need separate facts about each one of them. With "Multiple Actions", the Assistant will be able to smartly understand when an “and” means a request should be parsed into parts, and when not, and it will be able to process much more complex requests.

Pretty Please


A thing that parents noticed while using the Google Assistant with their kids was that kids could just shout commands to make the Assistant tell a story and this caused a worry that kids might grow up being rude rather than polite. Google recognized the issue and the Assistant now recognizes when a kid asks politely and tells the kid they are doing a good job being polite. This feature is called "Pretty, Please" and is coming later this year as an option for families.

New Canvas for Assistant



Another huge theme for the Assistant is to make it more visually assistive. And that's why you will get a brand new look for the Assistant with more relevant information for you on your phone and on various smart screens. This feature is coming to Android this summer and to iOS later this year.

You will also be able to watch shows on Google Assistant smart screens and the goal is to thoughtfully integrate voice and visuals together in a new way for the home.

But in certain cases, rather than providing more information, you want the Google Assistant to be more minimal and less intrusive, say when you are driving. That's another new feature: the Assistant will come to Navigation in Google Maps this summer. 

New food pick up and delivery services


Last, but definitely not least, the Google Assistant will be able to carry out complete conversations with business like a hair salon to book you an haircut appointment, a restaurant to book a table, or a clinic to book a doctor appointment.

The demonstration that was shown on stage was really impressive, but also a bit scary at just how advanced and practically impossible to discern from a human Google's voice has become.

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15 Comments

1. ahmadkun

Posts: 660; Member since: May 02, 2016

Wow .. i'm impressed

2. cmdacos

Posts: 4319; Member since: Nov 01, 2016

I think I hear Siri sobbing in the corner

4. apple-rulz

Posts: 2198; Member since: Dec 27, 2016

Nah that’s Bixby you’re hearing.

6. Bankz

Posts: 2550; Member since: Apr 08, 2016

LmaoOOOOO

8. cmdacos

Posts: 4319; Member since: Nov 01, 2016

I didn't hear about anything that Bixby can do on the device. There isn't even a contest. Bixby owns that space right now and I haven't seen any keynote or marketing material where they promote trying to be a competitor. Nice try though. Learn about tech before you comment please.

13. Carlitos

Posts: 682; Member since: Oct 23, 2011

Don't get it twisted. Siri is in the corner crying. Bixby is second only to Google assistant rn. Even then it could be argued it better in a lot of things

3. Hollowmost

Posts: 425; Member since: Oct 10, 2017

Google is leapfrogging Siri

7. Bankz

Posts: 2550; Member since: Apr 08, 2016

leap frogging? lol, they surpassed siri a long time ago, lmaooo

5. apple-rulz

Posts: 2198; Member since: Dec 27, 2016

Google is crushing Bixby and Siri.

9. cmdacos

Posts: 4319; Member since: Nov 01, 2016

Possibly. Once Google even does a 10th of what Bixby can do for device management i'll be impressed.

12. apple-rulz

Posts: 2198; Member since: Dec 27, 2016

Bixby can’t even reliably set location based reminders so yeah, nice try.

14. cmdacos

Posts: 4319; Member since: Nov 01, 2016

That's what GA is for. Bixby is for full device interaction through speech. They both live harmoniously and can both be voice activated on the same device. It's a perfect world.

15. apple-rulz

Posts: 2198; Member since: Dec 27, 2016

Bixby isn’t as good as Siri, because Siri has no problem with location based reminders. All Bixby is good at is controlling a device via speech, something that would come in useful to a person with dexterity difficulties, and that’s all.

10. TechSceptic

Posts: 1156; Member since: Feb 05, 2018

The one thing that i found absolutely brilliant and impressive was the fact that Google Assistant can have a conversation with a real establishment, such as a hair saloon, and then arrange a time for you in cooperation with the human on the other end by using the information you gave to it at the start, when you told it to arrange an appointment/reservation. That just blew my mind. That is literally years ahead of the other assistants.

11. xtroid2k

Posts: 601; Member since: Jan 11, 2010

Yeah Bixby is highly functional and awesome. Very under rated product

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