Oct 11th, 2016 publishUpdated   Oct 12th, 2016, 9:58 am

Google Assistant is one of the biggest changes we’ve seen to Google Search in a long time. It takes all the knowledge of Google and adds some powerful artificial intelligence. Users can tap into this great resource by simply talking to Google as if they were talking to a real person. Google Assistant will really shine when Google Home finally launches later this year. It will also be showcased on the Pixel and Pixel XL. The good news is you can get a taste of Assistant right now in the Allo app.

Right now, Assistant is still in “Preview Edition.” It’s basically Google Now results displayed in a more human-like conversation view. This simple change makes a lot more sense for Google. For a while now, Google has been smart enough to know what you’re asking about even if you don’t repeat details. You can say “how old is Harrison Ford” and then follow up with “when is his birthday?” Google knows the second question is still about Ford. Doing this in a conversational format feels very natural.

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Here are some examples of commands that should be familiar to you. They still work in Google Assistant.

  • How old is…
  • How far is it to…
  • Play music
  • Ask for a recipe
  • Show me news about…
  • Set a reminder
  • Show me nearby…
  • Show me photos of…
  • Sports scores
  • What am I doing tomorrow
  • What movies are showing
  • What’s the square root of
  • What’s the weather in…

Pretty standard stuff. Assistant can currently do a few things that you can’t do in Google Now and it will only get smarter over time. Here are a few new things you can try out right now in Allo.

Remembers stuff for you

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One of the handy new features is the ability to remember information for you. A simple example is to say “my favorite color is blue.” You can then ask “what is my favorite color?” and Assistant will tell you it’s blue. A more useful real-world example is passwords and lock combinations. You could have Assistant remember the combination for your bike lock.

Subscriptions for weather, news, and more

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Another nifty feature is daily subscriptions for things like weather and news. If you ask “what is the temperature?” you’ll notice one of the suggestions is “send me daily.” This allows you to get weather reports at a specific time every day from Assistant. The same thing works for news. Ask for news about any subject and you’ll see the same option for “send me daily.” You can also get daily poems.

“Let’s play a game”

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Assistant has some fun stuff built-in as well. If you’re bored, you can ask to play a game. You can choose from Chat games, Quiz games, Doodle games, and Classic games.The Chat games are mostly emoji puzzles. Quiz games are pretty self-explanatory. Doodle games are the games that have been featured as the Google Doodle of the day. Classic games include solitaire and tic-tac-toe. They can all be played inside of Allo.

“Recite a poem”

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Need some inspiration? Assistant can recite poems whenever you need one. Just say “tell me a poem” and a poem will be posted in the chat. We don’t know how often people will use this feature, but it’s kinda cool. You can also get a poem sent to you every day.

Integration with more apps

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Something that you won’t find in Assistant right now is the ability to communicate with other devices in your home. This is something that will be very important when Google Home is available. You’ll be able to say “play a soup recipe on the TV” and Assistant will automatically play a YouTube video on your Chromecast. it will also work with home automation gadgets like light bulbs and switches.

The Future is Bright

The preview of Google Assistant is very promising. Google has built upon the existing functionality and presented it in a more human interface. When Assistant works well, it feels like you’re living in the future. When it doesn’t work so well, it feels like we still have a long way to go. We won’t be able to see the full potential until the Pixel phones and Google Home launch later this year.

How do you feel about Google Assistant? Is this something you plan on using a lot? Do you prefer Google Now?

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