Google Assistant just got a little bit smarter.
At Google I/O on Tuesday, Google unveiled new features and updates to Google Assistant, the smart assistant that lives inside Google Home devices, the Google app, Pixel phones, and the latest versions of Android.
Google Assistant has always been capable of clever tricks and helpful features. Now, Assistant can now speak in new voices, listen for follow-up questions, and handle multiple requests at once. Some of it is playing catch-up with Amazon’s leading Alexa virtual agent, but it’s still all good news for Google fans.
Here’s everything Google just added to Google Assistant.
Google Assistant will now speak in several different voices.
Google added six new voices to Google Assistant in both men’s and women’s tones.
Google also had celebrity singer John Legend record his voice for the Assistant, so Legend will occasionally chime in with answers to your queries. Google says Legend’s voice will be arriving later this year.
You can now ask follow-up questions without having to say, “Hey Google” every time.
Google added a new feature called Continued Conversation, which allows your Google Home to keep listening for follow-up questions. This means that you don’t have to say, “Hey Google” or “OK Google” before each follow-up questions.
Google says Continued Conversations has been a top-requested feature, and it will be rolling out over the next several weeks. It’s not immediately clear, however, at what point Google Home will stop listening.
You can ask Google Assistant for multiple things at once.
Thanks to an update that’s already starting to roll out, Google Assistant can now handle multiple requests at a time.
That means you can ask it something like, “What’s the weather like in New York and San Francisco?” and Assistant will be able to process both requests.
Amazon added a similar feature to Alexa in early March.
A new Google Assistant mode called “Pretty Please” aims to teach better manners to kids.
Google Assistant will now listen for good manners. The new mode, called “Pretty Please,” will provide positive reinforcement when it hears the word “please.” If you’re polite, it will reply with a phrase like, “Thanks for asking so nicely.”
Amazon added a similar feature to Alexa last month when it unveiled its Echo Dot Kids Edition.
You can create customised routines for Google Assistant.
Google added pre-set routines earlier in the year, but now you can customise your own routine. When you say something like, “Hey Google, dinner is ready,” the Assistant can then turn off the TV and dim the lights.
You’ll eventually be able to schedule those routines for a specific day or time.
Google Assistant on your phone will now be more visual.
Google Assistant on smartphones will now be a more user-friendly experience. The Assistant will have more of a visual focus, pulling up images when you ask it to do a search, showing you a meter when you ask it adjust your thermostat, or providing a “visual snapshot” of your day.
Google also added a new food pick-up and delivery feature to Assistant, so you can browse through menus and order from places like Starbucks and Applebee’s without having to speak the entire order out-loud.
Google Assistant will now live inside Google Maps, too.
Google is adding new Assistant features to Maps, so you can use it while you’re driving.
You’ll now be able to ask Assistant to send texts, play music, and get information without having to leave the Google Maps navigation screen – instead, Assistant will just be built into the bottom of the app.
Google Assistant, built into Maps will be launching this summer.
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