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May102018

Google Assistant Adds New Natural Voices, Continued Conversation, Multiple Actions Plus More

At the I/O this year, Google’s digital voice assistant, the Google Assistant was the most avid product receiving a bing list of new features, capabilities and improvements.

Google shared in just two years when it was first launched at the I/O, the Assistant is available on 500 million plus devices, and works with over 5,000 connected home devices, in more than 40 car brands. Plus, it’ll be launched in more than 30 languages and 80 countries by the end of the year.

Sharing the next phase of the Assistant,, Google said that,

  • Google Home and Google Home Mini will be launching in seven new countries later this year.
  • Google Assistant is also launching in Spanish for Android Oreo (Go edition) phones soon.
  • Google Translate will soon be available on all headphones optimized for Google Assistant.

You can get a preview of some of these developments today in Google Assistant app for Android and iOS. And all smart speaker devices, like Google Home will be automatically updated with latest features once they’re available.

Here are the highlights of new Assistant features unveiled at the I/O:

First up, through an improved language understanding, you can now speak more naturally to Google Assistant:

New Voices
Google said with advancements in AI and WaveNet, new natural-sounding voices can now be created in just few week as they can capture subtleties like pitch, pace, and all the pauses that convey meaning.

Assistant now allows you to choose from six new voices as well as musician John Legend will lend his melodic tones to Assistant later this year.

Wathc the video demonstrating new voices:

Continued Conversation without Hey Google
Google today added an ability to enable a more natural conversation back-and-forth with Assistant without speaking wakeword “Hey Google” or :OK Google” for follow-ups.

Google said with improved natural language understanding the Assistant will be able to recognize when you’re talking to it versus someone else, and will respond accordingly.

Continued Conversation will become available in the coming weeks as it’s been the top requested feature .

Multiple Actions
With Multiple Actions, the Assistant will be able to understand more complex multiple queries, like “What’s the weather like in New York and in Austin?” It’s already rolling out.

Pretty Please
Aims to understand and give little ones a polite conversation, the Assistant will be geting a new ‘Pretty Please’ feature later this year. The feature will complement existing ‘Family Link’ that provide free fmaily-friendly games, activities and stories from content partners include Disney.

Custom and Scheduled Routines
Routines does multiple things with a single command, now Google is adding ‘Custom Routines’ that combine a string of actions e.g. turn off TV, turn on music. As the name suggest, users can create own routine using one million Actions in Assistant and give them a phrase or name to invoke.

Routines can also be scheduled using Assistant app or through Google Clock app for Android later this year, so that they automatically run at a specific day or time.

In addition to verbla conversation Google is also bringing “rich visual experience” to the Assistant together with voice through Smart displays, a new category of devices that can be navigated with voice and touch by a tap or swipe on the screen.

Smart Displays are a new category of devices built for the home that let you quickly glance at responses provided by the Google Assistant. You can access the Assistant hands-free by voice, but you can also tap and swipe the screen when that’s easier.

The devices will come integrated with Google services, like Calendar, Maps, and YouTube, so that users can follow a recipe, control smart home, watch live TV on YouTube TV, and make video calling with Google Duo. The first Smart Displays available in July.

A screen shot of new Smart displays:

Google Assistant Smart Displays

Rich Visual Experience for Smartphones
A newly redesigned visual experience for the Assistant on mobile phones coming later this year will provide quick snapshot of the day, with suggestions based on the time, location and recent interactions with the Assistant. In some cases, users will be able to take actions from witthin the result screen of Assistant app.

Google is also integrating popular notes and lists from Google Keep, Any.do, Todoist and more to offer a summary of tasks and list items. Also coming to Assistant is a food ordering/delivery experience that isn’t constrained by a chat-style interface. Partners include Starbucks, Doordash, Applebee’s, Dunkin’ Donuts and Domino’s.

GIF animation demonstrating new rich visual experience:

Google Assistant new visual experience on mobile

Assistant in Google Maps
The Assistant integrating with navigation in Google Maps will enable users to send tet messages, play music or podcasts and get information from within Google Maps app screen. As an example, if you say “Hey Google, read me my messages” will get you a summary of unread texts with option to respond by voice. The feature will be avialble this summer.

Google Duplex for SMBs
Duplex, a new AI-driven capability will bring the abilities to make reservation, scheduling, booking appointments, and get holiday hours. You need to provide the date and time to the Assistant, and it’ll initiate a call to the local business—”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.” After a reservation or appointment is booked, the Assistant will add a calendar reminder for appointment and allow to cancel it, if needed.

Thanks to Google Duplex, the Assistant is capable to understand complex multi-step sentences & conversation, fast speech, and long remarks and also respond more naturally in a phone conversation.

Here’s a screen shot of how Google Duplex and Assistant can help making a phone call:

Google Duplex in Google Assistant making a phone call

Just last week only, Google introduced a new capability to the Assistant—is now capable of providing more information about movies and helps in buying movie tickets with Fandango from witin the Assistant interface.

Users just need to speak commands, such as “buy tickets” if your’re undecided about a movie to watch, or say “buy tickets for [movie name],” or “Hey Google, get me tickets for…” and insert name of the movie. You can also issue search commans such as “showtimes near me.”

Ticket purchasing is facilitated through Fandango, who allows to buy tickets for currently runnig movies, or buy tickets in advance. And, if there’s a seat-reservation aspect, Fandango will let you through seat selection before completing tickets purchase.

With this new feature, users can begin a conversation about movies on Google Home, and pick up where they left off using Google Assistant on a smartphone.

GIF below shows movie ticke purchase experience with Assistant on Fandango:

Google Assistant buying movie ticket on Fandango

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