Google Assistant Announces Carrier and OEM Programs

Google has a number of announcements for Mobile World Congress this week in Barcelona. Two involve the introduction of new programs for telecom carriers and mobile device OEMs. In a blog post Friday, Google VP of product Nick Fox mentioned that a new program which will help telecom carriers provide access to information and services for their users through Google Assistant.

This includes helping people learn more about their plan, add new services (like international data roaming), get customer support and more. This gives carriers a new way to support their customers while reducing response time.

Sprint, Koodo, Telefónica, Telus and Vodafone are early program participants. The idea here is Google Assistant will integrate with carrier services and data to provide voice interactive access for users. This is tailoring Google Assistant to specific vertical use cases that provide value to telecom customers.

OEM Support Beyond Android OS Integration

The Assistant Mobile OEM program goes beyond Android OS integration. LG, Sony and Xiaomi have all signed on for the program and are working on deeper integrations. An example was announced yesterday. The new LG V30S model includes 32 customized voice commands for Google Assistant. Each of these commands control a feature specific to the phone. Fox commented:

We’ve already been working with OEMs for more than a year and continue to work together so they can build device-specific commands with the Assistant, develop integration with hardware-based AI chips, ensure “Ok Google” and “Hey Google” work when the screen is off, and build other custom integrations.

Other unconfirmed but likely program participants include both JioPhone and HMD, the latter of which sells under the Nokia brand name. Both companies have recently announced feature phones that will provide Google Assistant access. Partnership program announcements are typically more show than reality. However, the importance here is that Google is working to get Assistant deeply integrated into the infrastructure of devices and telecom carrier services networks. These efforts entail a great deal of complexity and commitment by Google partners. That means Google Assistant will become further embedded in core hardware and service infrastructure and will be harder for other voice assistants to displace.

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