Last week, Google held its annual I/O developers conference where it announced what the company has in store for the future. This year Google is focusing on the importance of mobile and search with new services, products and apps.
Google Assistant is a service designed to help users get things done. Google Assistant learns about you to help put your questions in the context of your world, as if you had your very own Google.
Using natural language processing, Google Assistant can have a dialogue with you as if it were a real person standing next to you. The example was given of someone standing in front of a sculpture and asking Google Assistant, “Who is the artist?” Google would know where the person was and what he was referring to, providing the name of the sculpture’s artist as the answer.
Conversations can continue so the user can then say, “When was he born?” and Google Assistant would know the question refers to the artist mentioned in the previous answer.
Another example was given of a user asking Google Assistant, “What’s playing tonight?” Google Assistant shows the movies playing nearby that the user might like. The user then says, “I want to take the kids.” Google Assistant displays family-friendly movies playing in area theaters. The user says, “I want to see Jungle Book at 7:30.” Google Assistant offers to buy the tickets. When the user agrees, Google Assistant replies with a QR code to be shown at the movie theater.
Google Assistant can also search your photos and videos. Users can ask to “search my photos for hugs” and be shown all of her photos where people are hugging.
Google Assistant will be available on mobile devices, wearables, computers, cars, TVs and in the home.
Google Home is a new device that provides a voice-activated Google Assistant. Like Amazon Echo, Google Home can play music, manage tasks and perform searches.
Home has a speaker in the base so you can listen to music, podcasts and audiobooks. The top of Google Home is white, but the base can be ordered in different colors and materials, such as metal or fabric.
Users will be able to connect multiple Homes so music can be played throughout the house simultaneously. Home can also connect to Chromecast so you can ask Home to show you something on TV.
Home should be available this summer.
Google is launching a new messaging app this summer called Allo (pronounced like “aloe”, the plant). Allo uses your phone number so you can connect with your contacts easily.
Within Allo you can send text, stickers, emojis, and photos. Allo lets users SHOUT or whisper, adjusting the size of the font, emoji or sticker with a slider.
You can draw on photos within Allo using feature called Ink.
Google Assistant is also available within Allo. You can type questions to Google Assistant and get answers within the Allo app. For example, you can ask, “When is my next appointment today?” and get the answer without leaving Allo.
Allo comes with a feature called Smart Reply that learns how you speak and offers quick replies based on what you would say. The more you use Allo the better the suggestions should become. Allo even suggests emojis and stickers, if you’re the type of person who uses those.
Smart Reply even works with photos, understanding the content and context of the photo. The example was given of receiving a photo of a bowl of linguine with white clam sauce. The Smart Replies offered were, “Yummy!” and “I love linguine!” Google has found Smart Replies to be 90% accurate in interpreting photos.
Apps work within Allo, such as OpenTable. A demonstration was given of making a reservation using OpenTable without ever leaving the app.
Allo will offer Incognito Mode with end-to-end encryption and discreet notifications. You can make messages disappear after a certain amount of time.
Allo will be available this summer on Android and iPhone/iPad. Sign up at Google Play to be notified when Allo is launched.
Duo is Google’s new video chat app, similar to Apple’s FaceTime, but available only as video and only on mobile devices. Duo will work across platforms so an Android user can call an iPhone user and vice versa. Like Allo, Duo works based on the user’s phone number.
A unique feature is Knock, Knock, sending a preview of who is calling and what they’re doing.
This video shows how Duo works:
Duo adjusts the video quality based on the strength of the signal. If you have a weak Wi-Fi or cellular connection, the video will adjust to a lower quality so the chat can continue.
Connections can also switch seamlessly between cellular and Wi-Fi so your video call won’t drop when you move away from Wi-Fi.
Duo will be available this summer on Android and iPhone/iPad. Sign up on Google Play to be notified when Duo becomes available.
Google has signed up over 40 manufacturers to offer Android Auto, the infotainment system for cars. Over 100 models of cars offer Android Auto and Google expects this number to double by the end of 2016.
More than 100 apps are available on Android Auto and the service is available in 30 countries, though not all apps are available in all countries. Google Assistant will be available in Android Auto.
“Ok, Google” will be coming to Android Auto so you can use your voice to start a search. Google’s traffic app Waze will also be available soon to provide real-time traffic and routing information. Google is also working on connecting phones wirelessly to Android Auto.
If you don’t have Android Auto in your car and aren’t planning on getting a new car soon, you still may be able to use the service. Google is planning on making Android Auto available in all cars. The Android Auto app can be open on your phone screen while you’re driving.
Are you looking forward to these new products and services from Google? Would you like to use Google Assistant? Would you find it handy to have Google Assistant available in your home, car and phone?
Share your thoughts in the Comments section below!