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article imageGoogle Assistant update signals company's aims for consumer AI

By James Walker     Oct 5, 2017 in Technology
Google's announced a number of new features coming to Google Assistant on the company's range of hardware products. Google intends Assistant to eventually replace keyboard and touch input, offering a personalised voice-driven experience instead.
Assistant was launched a year ago during Google's first hardware event. During the company's Pixel 2 unveiling yesterday, Google said Assistant is meant to be "helpful, simple to use [and] available where you need it." With these fundamentals in mind, Assistant will soon be expanded with several new features meant to differentiate it from competitors including Siri and Alexa.
Running Routines
Amazon recently unveiled its new range of Alexa-enabled products. They come with Routines, a feature that allows several linked actions to be run from a single voice command. Assistant's now getting the same functionality, so you can say a command like "OK Google, I'm home" to automatically turn on your lights, brew a coffee and start the TV.
This kind of functionality could be essential to the long-term success of consumer AI. For the technology to gain mass acceptance, it has to offer a compelling reason for users to invest in smart home ecosystems.
Google Assistant on Android phones
Google Assistant on Android phones
Google
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Previous voice technology has floundered because it's been quicker and easier to complete a task yourself. By letting you chain multiple different actions together, Google can now offer a tangible benefit to using AI. You can rest while Assistant completes tasks simultaneously that you used to complete individually.
Some of Assistant's other new features are designed around a similar idea. Next year, Assistant will integrate with Nest's smart doorbell to recognise faces of people at your door. If the person is known to Nest Camera, it will automatically notify Assistant. Assistant will use another of its new capabilities, Broadcast, to tell all your Google Home devices to let you know your friend has arrived.
Transforming technology
In the long-term, Google sees Assistant as a way to "transform" human interaction with technology. The Assistant is meant to provide a more intuitive way of accessing the search engine, providing a context-aware digital helper that works around you. You won't need to visit Google's search page anymore because Assistant will have already prepared information for you.
"Over time, we believe the Assistant has the potential to transform how we use technology – not only by understanding you better but also by giving you one, easy-to-use and understandable way to interact with it," said Google. "All you have to do is say 'OK Google' to get help from your own personal Google."
Investing in the future
Assistant's also important to Google because it represents a way to futureproof its business. If Google's vision comes to fruition, its search tech and AI will be at the heart of everything you do. From managing your schedule to adjusting your home's heating, Google will permeate your entire life in a way that hasn't previously been possible.
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Down the line, there's also potential for voice tech to be monetised, either through sponsored product suggestions or extra add-on capabilities. The possibilities for AI voice control are numerous and only just starting to be explored, making early investment crucial for tech titans like Google.
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