It wouldn’t be a Google developer conference if its Google Assistant didn’t get a mention (or five) with the company announcing a slew of new features for the smart assistant.
Google Assistant will be able to book an appointment for a user through new technology, Google Duplex. This means the Google Assistant can phone up a restaurant or hair dresser and make the booking for a user.
All a user has to do is provide the date and time, and the Assistant will call the business to coordinate for you. If a business uses an online booking service, the Assistant will book through that. And if not, the Assistant will call the business on your behalf.
Google Duplex helps the Assistant understand complex sentences, fast speech, and long remarks, so it can respond naturally in a phone conversation.
However, this new feature won’t be available straight away as testing is happening over the next few months but should be released this year. Yossi Matias, VP of engineering and Nick Fox, VP of product and design for Google Assistant Search told CNET the company wants to “proceed with caution as its such a new technology.”
— Danny Sullivan (@dannysullivan) May 8, 2018
Even though the calls will sound very natural, the Assistant will be clear about the intent of the call so businesses understand the context. Once your reservation or appointment is booked, the Assistant will add a calendar reminder for the appointment and allow a user to cancel if needed.
Google says with Google Duplex, businesses can operate as they always have; and people can easily book with them through the Google Assistant.
Google has honed in on the voice of its Google Assistant adding six new voices to choose from. Later this year users can choose singer John Legend as their assistant voice.
Google Assistant will also be more conversational with users able to ask follow up questions without adding ‘hey Google’, according to Google this has been a popular request.
When asking the Assistant a question you can now ask two things in one sentence, for example, “Hey Google, what is the temperature in Sydney and Perth?”. For children, Google has added a ‘pretty please’ function where kids will get positive reinforcement when they use manners when asking the Google Assistant a question.
Google is introducing Custom Routines to the Google Assistant allowing a user to create their own routine with a custom phrase. For example, you can create a Custom Routine for family dinner, by saying “Hey Google, dinner’s ready” and the Assistant can turn on your favourite music, turn off the TV, and broadcast “dinner time” to everyone in the house.
Google will be releasing its first smart display which will be available from July. Similar to the JBL Link View, a user can follow along with a recipe, control your smart home, watch live TV on YouTube TV, and make video calls with Google Duo. Smart Displays come integrated with all your favourite Google services like Calendar, Maps, and YouTube.
The Google Assistant is also getting a makeover on smartphones, it will give you a snapshot of your day (seen above) with suggestions based on the time of time, location and recent interactions with the smart assistant.
Google Assistant will also be integrated into Google Maps navigation later this year with a low visual profile so you can keep your hands on the wheel and your eyes on the road. You’ll be able to send text messages, play music and podcasts, and get information without leaving the navigation screen.
Google plans to bring its Assistant to 80 countries by the end of the year.