Tech giant Google is setting up a "Google Assistant Fun House" at this year's South By Southwest expo in Austin, Texas to show off the possibilities of its AI assistant platform. Google Assistant, when hooked into a smart home properly, can easily control just about every aspect of it by voice, and through any compatible device in the home. In the Google Assistant Fun House, however, Google plans to show off some fairly creative uses of Assistant-powered tech, including a sock sorter and a beer vending system, among others. This all comes alongside an update that brings a few new actions and capabilities to Assistant, allowing for a bit of extra usefulness outside of the crowd that fancies using Assistant in the most novel ways possible.
The update starts out with allowing you to sign up for updates from your favorite Actions for Assistant, giving you a notification whenever there's a new development with a particular Action. Assistant will also gain the ability to accept new audio commands, including looping a song or piece of media through a simple voice command, or even turning off a phone or tablet's screen while media plays, depending on which Action is playing the media. There are also a few new Actions on board for Assistant users to enjoy, including Actions from American Idol, a trivia game from iHeartRadio, and The Mindfulness App, along with a few other new Actions. Arguably the biggest addition to the new update is the ability to set up Custom Device Actions within an Action, allowing users or developers to change how an Action behaves or add new options depending on what type of device or what specific device is addressing the Action.
Google has been working hard to make Assistant more full-featured and useful in a bid to surpass Amazon's Alexa ecosystem and Microsoft's Cortana digital assistant. Google also has some competition in the form of Samsung's Bixby, present on the Galaxy S8 and more recent devices, but Samsung has yet to release a smart speaker featuring Bixby as of this writing. Google Home has a long way to go to move ahead of the Amazon Echo in both developer mindset and user numbers.