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article imageGoogle wants you to forget about typing and talk directly to it

By James Walker     Oct 5, 2016 in Technology
Google has formally announced Assistant, an interactive natural language processor that uses machine learning and artificial intelligence to create a unique, specially tailored version of Google for each user. It will be available on new Android phones.
Google Assistant is designed to allow you to have natural language conversations with Google. It's meant to be a unified location to interact with Google and third-party services throughout your day.
After initially debuting in the company's Allo messaging app last month, Assistant has now made the jump to direct integration with Android. It's currently only available on Google's new Pixel and Pixel XL phones but more devices will support Assistant in the future.
Once enabled, Assistant can be activated by saying "OK Google." You can ask questions and receive instant answers. Assistant displays a messaging thread that allows you to build up a conversation with Google. The AI is context-aware and can reply to messages in series, allowing it to emulate human conversation.
Assistant is powered primarily by Google's Knowledge Graph, giving it access to millions of pieces of information. It is also linked to external services, such as Wikipedia, for when Google doesn't know the answer itself. Third-party apps such as Uber can hook into Assistant, enabling interactions such as "OK Google, book me an Uber."
In this example, Google Assistant will initiate the conversation between you and Uber. You'll then be able to interact with the Uber bot in the Assistant messaging thread, letting you hire a cab without opening the app. To signify you're talking to Uber rather than Google, Assistant will display Uber's icon next to messages sent by the bot.
Google Assistant
Google Assistant
Google
Google sees Assistant as a natural evolution of its core product. In a blog post, it explained how only 300 million people were using the internet when Google was founded. Today, over 3 billion devices are online and the internet is accessible from almost anywhere. The past decade has been filled with innovation in the smartphone space, creating a mobile-first world. Google thinks the next ten years will be dominated by artificial intelligence, led by Google Assistant.
"The last 10 years have been about building a world that is mobile-first, turning our phones into remote controls for our lives," the company said. "But in the next 10 years, we will shift to a world that is AI-first, a world where computing becomes universally available - be it at home, at work, in the car or on the go - and interacting with all of these surfaces becomes much more natural and intuitive, and above all, more intelligent."
Google Assistant is the smartest consumer-aimed AI Google has ever created. However, the company recognises it's still early days for the technology. It is aiming to partner with more third-party services and improve Assistant's machine learning to create a more reliable experience over time. Google said the version shipping to Pixel owners when the phone launches already represents "tremendous strides" in machine learning and AI, indicating it will be able to achieve "amazing things" for search users over the next 10 years.
Google Assistant
Google Assistant
Google
If Google's vision is correct, by 2025 we'll be talking directly to a natural language-aware, environment-sensing AI manifestation of its search engine, instead of typing queries into a web-based textbox. Google will integrate seamlessly into your life, providing help as you need it for different contexts and scenarios.
"The Google Assistant allows you to get things done, bringing you the information you need, when you need it, wherever you are," said Google.
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