Bringing Artificial Intelligence to Everyday Life, Google Assistant Was the Star of Today’s Announcements

Rafia Shaikh
Posted Oct 4, 2016
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Google’s answer to Apple’s Siri is possibly the biggest features of its newly launched Pixel smartphone. Google Assistant is highly advanced, capable of delivering contextual information and assistance to a user. Building on Google Now voice assistant, Google Assistant is more contextually aware to your conversations and what is happening on your Pixel.

Google Assistant marks the company’s shift to “AI first”

CEO Sundar Pichai kicked off today’s event by talking about the company’s shift from “mobile first” to “AI first.” Pichai said Google wants to bring a personal Google to every user. Google previously showed off its artificial intelligence capabilities with its Allo messaging app, and has also been using its AI capabilities to fight internet trolls.

Bringing the same contextual assistance to its newly released “really blue” smartphones, the company is bringing everyone our very own Google. To make it truly helpful, Assistant will be available universally, from phones to homes. Google is now building on its hardware around Google Assistant, and the new Pixel phone is the first such device.

The powerful Assistant starts listening to your Pixel phones when you hold down on the Home button, similar to how you activated Google Now before. Google Assistant can help you book reservations, send texts, look for entertainment choices around you, play music, share recipes, and do a lot more. In a demonstration on the stage today, when asked to play music by The Lumineers, the Assistant brought up a YouTube video of the band’s music and started playback.

The assistant is conversational – an ongoing two-way dialogue between you and Google that understands your world and helps you get things done. It makes it easy to buy movie tickets while on the go, to find that perfect restaurant for your family to grab a quick bite before the movie starts, and then help you navigate to the theater.

You can also invoke it to ask for things like show you pictures of a specific person or an event. This assistance transcends from your Pixel to your Home. Using its smart speaker, Google Home will help you manage everyday tasks, like switching on lights or playing “that Shakira song from Zootopia.” All of this intelligence comes from years of efforts that Alphabet has put into AI. Pichai said Google improved AI quality from 89.6 percent in 2014 to 93.9 percent today.

Google is partnering with Nest, IFTTT and several other brands to integrate the service and let Google Assistant help you control your connected home appliances.

More “humanly”

One of the major highlights of Google Assistant is how it understands the context and offers you information in a vernacular, everyday language. You can ask Adele’s real name, and it will understand who you are talking about when your next question is “how many awards has she won?”

In the demo today, it also offered a reminder, saying “By the way, remember to cook dinner for your kids tonight.” This is unlike the typical voice assistant responses that are more formal and machine-sounding. Google promises to make Assistant even better and friendlier with time as it integrates with all of the company’s services and new hardware.

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