Last week, Google hosted Google I/O, their annual developer conference in San Francisco. As this is a developer event there was little hardware announcements, however there where some exciting software announcements, especially for the Google Assistant. So now I will dive right in with the most exciting Google Assistant announcements from Google I/O.
Firstly, I’ll start with what I think is the most exciting addition to the Google Assistant, Google Lens. Google Lens is a new vision based system that interprets what you are looking at with your camera. The example given at the I/O conference was, if you came across a flower and you wanted to know what it was, you would bring up the Google Lens from the Assistant, point your phone at it, and it would bring up the information on what type of flower it was. This in itself was quite cool (and a bit like Bixby vison), but Google Lens can also take action on what you are looking at. Again, Google gave another example of this, the example being that they pointed the Google Lens at a Wi-Fi password and the phone automatically connected. Google Lens will also be able to translate text that you see and you will then be able to ask the Assistant for more detail about whatever it has translated.
Google Lens will also be integrated into Google Photos so, for example, if you had a picture of a landmark and wanted to know more about it, you could bring up the Google Lens for more information.
If you use an iPhone but were wanting to use the Google Assistant then good news! The Google Assistant has arrived in the App Store. Obviously, you can’t make it so that it replaces Siri when you long press the home button. However, the app launches quickly and you can add a widget onto the widget page.
Great news for app developers as well. Google Assistant can now be integrated into apps using the Google Assistant SDK.
The Assistant will also be supporting transactions now. So, if you ask Google to order you a pizza and then select what pizza you want, you can then pay using the assistant and get it delivered to your home address, meaning you can complete the entire transaction just by speaking to the Google Assistant.
The assistant on Google Home has had some updates as well, but the one that I thought seemed most interesting was the “Proactive Assistance”. If you see the lights on your Google Home flashing, this means that there has been an update on something that you are doing, such as, if there was heavier traffic than usual and you had an event in your calendar, Google Home would flash and when you asked, “Hey Google, what’s up?” you would be told that traffic is heavier than usual so you might want to consider leaving earlier.
If you speak French, German, Brazilian, Portuguese or Japanese then you can look forward to Google Assistant supporting these languages by Summer. If you speak Italian, Spanish or Korean, you’ll have to wait until the end of the year, but support is coming.
Finally, if you have a phone that supports Google Assistant you may have already noticed that you can now use a keyboard when using the Assistant which is handy as it means that you can use it in more circumstances where you otherwise wouldn’t have, such as crowded locations.
There was a lot more news to come out of Google I/O relating to more areas than just the Google Assistant, if you want to see a good roundup, this video by The Verge is a great summary: