Google has unveiled quite a few new products today, including the new Pixel and Pixel XL smartphones, but hardware wasn’t the only thing they had in store for fans. Google Assistant, the company’s new smart assistant software that was first properly demoed in the recently released chat app Allo, will be making its way to some of the new products that were announced today.
While Google Assistant was already available in the Allo app, it will also be included in Google’s new connected speaker, Google Home, and will be integrated into the Pixel and Pixel XL smartphones as well. Each of these three versions of Google Assistant will work in essentially the same way, although there will be some key differences. The version that is built into Allo serves primarily as a chat-bot that is capable of retrieving information on demand but will not perform tasks on your device, such as turning on Wi-Fi. The version of Google Assistant that is integrated into the Pixel will be activated by holding the home button. In contrast to Allo’s version, which only accepts text queries, this version will not accept text, but rather requires all questions to be asked using voice. It will perform tasks, so users can use it much in the same way that the Google app can currently be used on other Android devices. It has also taken over the functionality of Now on Tap, which scans the current screen for information and provides context-based suggestions. Lastly, there is Google Assistant on the newly-unveiled Google Home, which responds to voice using two built-in microphones. The device displays the same spinning colored circles as the Google app while processing a query, and speaks the results through its built-in speaker. This version of Google Assistant not only answers questions, but can also perform tasks such as setting timers and playing music. It even has the capability to interact with smart home devices, so you can do things like turn on lights or play videos on your TV.
Google Assistant seems in many ways to be an evolution of the Google app’s functionality, and the two overlap in many areas, but it also brings a few new capabilities to the table. Unfortunately, for now, it serves slightly different purposes in the different places it can be used, which is somewhat inconsistent and may provide users with a confusing experience. However, as is usually the case with new products, as the company continues to fine-tune and develop Google Assistant, it will likely become more intuitive and useful over time. There are also plans to grant third parties the ability to integrate their services with Google Assistant, which will expand the possibilities quite a bit. If you want to give Google Assistant a try, check out the new Pixel or Pixel XL smartphones, Google Home, or Google Allo, the latter of which is available via the link below.