Google is rolling out an update with new coronavirus tips and news features for its AI-driven Assistant. The features, reported by 9to5Google, center around the same information presently found in Google’s government-sponsored dedicated coronavirus site. The underlying goal here appears to be to surface preventative measures and news as widely as possible.
To that end, Google’s latest update delivers a coronavirus shortcut directly to the main Assistant UI. The search giant placed the associated button just below the primary greeting message next to a plus-shaped icon. That’s to the right of the standard “What can you do?” suggestion. The shortcut reads “Coronavirus tips.”
Tapping on the new shortcut calls forward a “General public health information” PSA card. That’s part of the company’s ongoing “Do the Five” campaign and showcases tips for preventing people from contracting or spreading the virus. The list includes tips to do with handwashing, social distancing, and more. Tapping on the card’s “More info” button takes users to the WHO-built COVID-19 site.
Just below the shortcut-surfaced tips, the latest news about coronavirus is brought forward. At the bottom of the page, Google also helpfully offers additional suggestions. For instance, it offers up searches for handshake alternatives, reminders for handwashing, activities for kids and remote working tips, and more.
Coronavirus tips are also found in the Google Assistant-driven Discover
Aside from Assistant, Google has also added a new shortcut to Discover. That’s the Assistant-driven personalized news feed found on the home screen of some Android smartphones. To get there, users typically need to swipe all the way to the left.
At the top of Google Discover, Google now showcases a card that offers to “Get the latest information” on coronavirus. The card should appear for just about any user, irrespective of whether or not coronavirus is something they’ve been searching for.
Tapping the card takes users to a search for coronavirus, which Google has recently updated with yet another new card. That offers up a tabbed overview of coronavirus and COVID-19, including symptoms, prevention, treatments, and statistics. Of course, Google populates the following search results space with top news stories about coronavirus.
This isn’t appearing for everybody just yet but that’s not necessarily a problem
The new Google Assistant shortcut and Google Discover suggestion offer up a plethora of information for everybody using Android or the search giant’s AI. That’s whether they’re actively searching out that information or not. However, the details shared on either page aren’t at all new. Moreover, not everybody is going to see the changes immediately but that isn’t necessarily a problem.
As mentioned above, Google also launched an official government-sponsored coronavirus site this week. The site acts as a central hub for coronavirus and COVID-19 information. It includes all of the details found in the new Assitant-based features. But Google also includes links to both WHO websites pertaining to COVID-19 and the US CDC site.
The latter of those sites contains information for US users who want to self-check for symptoms and arrange to test for the disease. So while the shortcuts are nice to have, anybody looking for information on the disease, its spread, or other resources won’t necessarily need those shortcuts at all.