With the launch of the Google Pixel and the Google Pixel XL having taken place last week, and with the launch of the Google Home speaker looming, there is quite a bit of focus on Google Assistant, the intelligent AI software that powers many of the functions on some of Google’s latest products. Of course, Google Assistant technically launched before the Pixel Phones and Google Home, as there was some functionality with it available inside of the Allo app. Having said that, Google Assistant on both the Pixel devices as well as in Google Home is a more robust offering that allows for more functionality, and it presents users with a wider range of capabilities compared to Google’s other voice technologies like Google Now. Here are the new tricks that Google Assistant brings to the table with its full potential.
Perhaps the most notable, although this will be completely subjective, is Google Assistant’s ability to have contextual conversations with its user. This includes being able to ask Google Assistant a question and have it respond with an answer that feels more natural as if you were talking to another human being. For example, you could ask Google Assistant what movies are playing nearby and it could list off the options, then follow up by asking if you like it to purchase tickets for a certain film. That is of course, one of the most basic examples, but it gets the point across. Aside from the contextual back and forth, Google Assistant will also be able to control different Google Cast-enabled devices, such as the Chromecast and maybe TVs with Google Cast baked in, as well as things like Google Cast-enabled speakers. It’s not entirely clear whether or not this will be a function that is limited to just the Google Home, though, or if Google will decide to open it up to Google Assistant on the Pixel and Pixel XL as well.
While Google Assistant is going to play a big role in the future of Google’s products and services, another big thing for Google is offline functionality, and just like with its other services such as Maps, Play Movies, Play Books, and more, Google Assistant has some offline capabilities as well. While searching for stuff with Google Assistant is likely to be a heavily used feature, if you’re not connected to the web you can’t rightfully expect a response. Luckily, Google Assistant will basically cache your query until a later date when it resumes a web connection, then feed you the results. Nifty right? What’s even better is that it doesn’t just do with this questions, it does this with commands too. It will not, however, necessarily work with everything. Attempting to ask Google Assistant through voice to “play Jimmy Eat World on Spotify” was only met with favorable results with a web connection. Without one, Google Assistant merely mentioned that the phone was offline and that it couldn’t help, and then proceeded to give a few suggestions as to what was possible when there was no connection up. When the same command was typed into Allo, things go a little more smoothly, although it doesn’t appear that the music automatically starts playing here, and instead presents you with a button to press, where as asking through voice starts the music right up as long as you’re online.
If you’re the type of user who loves getting alerts for stuff, like virtually anything, Google Assistant will grow on you as it can deliver daily alerts for nearly whatever you’re able to dream up. If you’re curious to stay on top of the current market value for a particular company stock, say, Google’s, then you can ask Assistant to deliver this information, after which you can follow it up by asking it to send you daily alerts. Again, it’s worth pointing out that this does not seem to work just yet when asking Google Assistant through the OK Google command. However, when asked or typed up through Allo in the Google Assistant chat, things work just fine, and Google Assistant will even ask you what time you want the alerts to come in. Google is also baking in third-party support, and later this year will be lunching their Actions on Google platform, which will enable third party services and apps to work in various features and actions that can be completed by Google Assistant voice commands. Of course, Assistant will be able to manage your smart home products through Google Home as well, once those actually arrive and people start receiving shipments.