What You Need to Know About the New Google Assistant Update
As if we weren’t short of surprises this year particularly from the tech industry, Google made an announcement that could very well be the most pleasant one so far this year. At the Google I/O conference 2018 held this week, CEO Sundar Pichai announced that the Google Assistant will be getting major updates. And the updates are major indeed with several AI based application that could make life a ‘breeze’ for all you couch potatoes out there. Anyway, let us have a look at the updates that are soon going to hit the market.
Speaking of couch potatoes, here is an update that is for the ages which could make that expression a literal one soon. The Google Duplex is an AI tool that will be assisting you with real world tasks all accomplished through the phone without you having to move an inch. With the ability to understand natural speech and complex sentences, the google assistant can now book appointments, reservations or orders and should any complication arise it will place a call to have a conversation with the concerned person and get it done. Which, while on the surface seems swell and all, but in the ‘real world’ when have we ever convinced a snooty receptionist at a fully booked hotel to make room. Maybe, Google should add the Jedi mind trick as part of their update if they haven’t already. ‘These are not the reservations you’re looking for’. Anyway, without digressing further, the application has to be trained in such conversations to become accustomed to and eventually become adept at it. And Google stresses that the application can only carry out conversations based on such scenarios and not answer questions like ‘why won’t my girlfriend talk to me anymore? I only made an observation about her dress’. For that, you still have to go to Quora.com.
Google is also planning on changing the interface of the Google assistant on both iOS and Android platforms to make it more informative and interactive. A certain degree of automation will be available in the interface as well with timeline-based snapshots, suggestions, summaries of activities etc. being part of the order. All your planner based details from various applications will also be integrated to the assistant. As announced earlier this year Google’s Smart Displays will also be launched later this year which will further enhance the experience.
Google maps will now be integrated with the Google Assistant AI to allow multitasking. Now you can access weather-related information, songs, send text messages and even podcasts for some reason according to news outlets. This raises an interesting question, what are Google’s policies on driving while speaking on the phone? Because, hands-free or not, talking on the phone is something that I assume is frowned upon all the world. As a matter of fact all over India that is an offense punishable by law. So, food for thought?
One of the most highlighted features of this update are the 6 new male and female voices. And the most highlighted aspect of these voices is that they are ‘natural sounding’. So instead of that persistent and seemingly strict lady asking you to take a left turn at 100 meters, you get John Legend and no you won’t be getting ‘all of him’, just his voice. Hey, at least now we can have a soothing semi-baritone voice telling ‘All your base are now belong to us’ when the machines take over. And if you think I am exaggerating, John legend himself feels threatened by his AI self. That’s why he felt the need to tweet out ‘Real John Legend > AI John.’ Anyway, the new voices will be playing a huge role in achieving the goals that Google seeks to achieve through Google Duplex. Furthermore, you will no longer have to use the phrases ‘OK Google’ or ‘Hey Google’ to trigger a conversation with the assistant. The new update will enable the assistant to distinguish conversations with others from the ones you make with it. Which again is not necessarily a reassuring prospect.
To sum up the new updates seem to be targeted at enhancing user experience by a huge margin and resolving some of the most infuriating issues people have had over the years with various google assistant functions. As ambitious as it is, the project will take a while to incorporate all these functions and hopefully, it would change our lives for the better. And the question in everyone’s mind now probably is what is going to happen with Siri?