Google Assistant getting major upgrades, including full phone operation


Google Assistant already aims to help you in your every day life, and it’s only getting better with time. But at Google I/O 2019, Google has announced a huge amount of improvements to our favorite virtual assistant.

Full phone control is coming to Assistant, including multitasking. You’ll be able to answer messages, switch to the photos app, ask to see certain photos, and send it to that same person with a text all with your voice. You can also send emails without a tap, including saying “set subject line to x” and “send it” to send it off, and it will know that you want to do those actions instead of just dictating what you’re saying into the body of the email.

This is thanks to Google shrinking the voice models that are responsible for understanding not only what you’re saying, but what you want. These models were previously hundreds of gigabytes, but it has now been shrunk to only half a gigabyte for our smartphones. This functionality is coming later this year.

It’s also getting smarter with your personal data. Assistant will be able to better utilize the Knowledge Graph using “Personal References,” so you can say things “remind me about my anniversary” or “what’s the weather like at mom’s house” and Google will understand the context and give you the correct information. You can edit this info in the “You” tab in the Assistant app settings.

Google Duplex is also getting an upgrade called Duplex on the web. Where reservations take multiple steps, Duplex will be able to fill the info out for you so you can confirm it with just a few clicks. Google’s example was renting a car for an upcoming trip to Chicago. All you’d have to say is “Book a National Car rental for my upcoming trip” and Duplex will fill in dates, times, and even your car preference if it knows it. This is all done on Google’s side without the companies having to support it.

“Picks for You” brings personalized suggestions based on your interests. If you ask for recipes, it will tailor what it shows you based on your food preferences. This feature will work with recipes, podcasts, and events and is coming to smart displays this summer.

Google Assistant is getting a new driving mode. You say “Hey Google, let’s drive” and it will show a new user interface that shows what’s most important. This includes navigation recommendations based on your calendar, recently started podcasts, and top contacts. While you’re navigating, Assistant will ask you if you want to answer calls. This is rolling out this summer to all Assistant-compatible phones. Google Assistant is coming to Waze in the next few weeks.

Lastly, a new feature is rolling out today that a lot of people are very excited about. When your alarm or timer goes off on your Google Home, you can just say “stop.” No need for the Hey Google hotword!

Dima Aryeh
A tech nerd from childhood, Dima also enjoys building and racing cars as well as photography and video games to pass the time.

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