Google Assistant: New voices, multiple actions, improvements debut @ Google I/O 2018
Google kicked off its annual developer conference, Google I/O, this morning with a two-hour keynote that ranged from Waymo self-driving cars to new Google Photos features to improvements in Google Assistant. And across all of it was a central theme: artificial intelligence, now being baked-in to nearly every Google product and service. While there were a number of improvements for the smart home, they felt a little lackluster. Also, there was absolutely zero information from Nest, a Google subsidiary.
Because there wasn’t much news of substance related to the smart home and Google Assistant, I’ll just give you the highlights. For the more of the details, plus my analysis and Google Assistant wishlist, check out the video embedded below. Full Google I/O 2018 keynote here.
Google announced it had added six new voices for the Assistant, available starting today. This is in addition to the two current voices, to bring it to a total of eight choices. As a side note, they also mentioned that the original (female) voice was code-named Holly. She sounds nice, just like her voice. Oh, and John Legend will also become a “limited” celebrity voice for Google Assistant later this year.
Speaking to the Assistant more naturally
In the coming weeks, according to Google, you’ll be able to use “Continued Conversations” to follow-up questions and commands as you speak to the Google Assistant, without saying “OK Google” again. Like “Is it going to rain tomorrow?” and then following that question with “What about the high temperature?” How long the Assistant will wait for you to say something else is unknown at this time, but it will probably be a few seconds. (Currently, you can give Google two commands or questions at once, but they have to be “complete” and separate items joined together with the word “and”.)
Also, you’ll be able to group related commands or questions together. Like “Turn on the kitchen and dining room lights”. Currently you have to say something like “Turn on the kitchen lights and turn on the dining room lights”. Not having to remember a specific way to talk to your smart speaker? Priceless.
Controls right where you need them
Google is bringing smart home controls right into the Assistant app on smartphones. If you ask for a change in temperature, or perhaps lighting, Google Assistant will respond accordingly but also display a control that you can use to directly interact with the device right on-screen. This is certainly helpful, as it eliminates the need for finding the appropriate app if you want to adjust the device more directly instead of using another voice command.