Google Assistant in the fast lane with new features
The Alexa competitor is now available on one billion devices and increasingly versatile. Here is a look at what is possible now and what the future holds.
Amazon initially had a head start with Alexa and its echo loudspeakers, but Google has entered the passing lane at full throttle. Some observers already see the search engine in the lead. Google Assistant is increasingly improving in two ways: it is learning new tricks and it is available in an increasing number of places.
New skills for Google Assistant
One of the newest features should be familiar, especially to Star Trek fans. The “Interpreter Mode” constantly translates a conversation into the other language. Both Smart Displays and Smart Speakers will also be equipped with this capability. 27 languages are available at launch.
Assistant is also being integrated in the Maps feature. This allows you, for example, to send a message via voice command about when you will arrive at your destination and much more. By the way, this will not only help Android users. Google Maps for iPhones and iPads will also be equipped with the digital helper. That’s a pretty smart move on Google’s part, as Apple users rarely install the Assistant app, but Google Maps is already available on many of these devices.
In general, the assistant is to become smarter and more helpful by networking even better with other services. In the future, for example, it will work with numerous hotel booking and travel planning services. Even the check-in for the next flight is soon to take place via Assistant. Google is initially working with United Airlines on this.
For these new skills to be used, Google Assistant must of course be omnipresent, and that is exactly what the company is working on. It just introduced “Google Assistant Connect”, for example.This platform is expected to multiply the number of devices equipped accordingly in the near future. Amazon already did this with Alexa in a very similar way. Google is hoping to achieve the same kind of success it did with Android.
A first example of the new platform is Lenovo’s Smart Clock. It can be seen as a radio alarm clock for the 21st century and competes with Amazon’s Echo Spot. A new Smart Display has also been launched. We had already reported on this new class of devices.
The loudspeaker specialist Sonos has also announced it will be supporting Google Assistant in addition to Alexa. However, users will not be able to switch between the two assistants at will. You will have to decide on one of the two, at least for the time being.
Last but not least, Google Assistant will be available on more Android devices right from the lock screen. This was previously reserved for Google’s own “Pixel” devices.
It is therefore no surprise that Google recently reported its Assistant as being present on 1 billion devices. This now includes a good 10,000 different products from around 1,600 manufacturers. Alexa’s reach is smaller with regard to the number of devices. On the other hand, the associated offering is more diverse overall, including 28,000 different devices from 4,500 manufacturers. We’ll see how this turns out in a year or two.
And the competition?
Microsoft has already stated that it no longer sees its assistant Cortana as a competitor to Alexa and Google. Rather, the company intends to relegate itself to supplying features.
That leaves Apple and Samsung, which are each developing their own assistants Siri and Bixby and integrating them exclusively in their own devices. Apple, in particular, will certainly stick to this policy and has recently hired Google’s top AI manager, among other things. Whether Samsung’s resources will be sufficient to survive in the market, however, is not yet clear. After all, Google has just announced that it will connect its own offers such as Gmail and YouTube with Bixby.
In general, several assistants could exist side by side. It was not necessarily to be expected that only one or two representatives would prevail, as in the case of operating systems, for example. Amazon’s SVP of Devices and Services, Dave Limp, among others, sees it like this.
The bottom line
Where will the path lead? We had already described in another article how voice assistants are changing marketing. Google’s current developments are making one thing very clear: the topic will not exit the scene any time soon. On the contrary, it seems more than apparent that digital assistants are becoming an integral part of our everyday lives.