Google Assistant on Smartphones Gets Update for Multimodal Interaction and Image and Gif Displays
Google announced today in its Keyword blog that Google Assistant is getting a big user interface update on smartphones. The company says that its user data show that when accessed on a smartphone:
Nearly half of all interactions with the Assistant include both voice and touch.
That finding led Google to rethink its user interface. The result are a number of new features designed to improve the Google Assistant user experience on the smartphone. Some of the updates include:
Bigger visuals that are easy to glance at quickly.
New controls and sliders to manage your smart home devices. Use the sliders to adjust your lights to the right brightness, or to control the volume of your smart speaker.
An interactive messaging interface so you can use your fingers to add a comma, change a word or make any other quick edits as you compose messages.
On Android phones, it’s now easier to access an overview of your day. Open up the Assistant and swipe up on your screen to get curated information based on the time of day and your recent interactions with the Assistant.
Developers and brands now have tools to take full advantage of the phone screen.
Starbucks was offered as an example of how brands are now using thumbnails to present items on their menus while Food Network offers larger images of their recipes. FitStar takes this a step further by using GIFs to offer users a preview of the workout.
Multimodal Interactions is Natural for Smartphones
Voice input on smartphones offers a lot of convenience for users and sometimes, audio response is also a plus. However, voice-and-audio-only experiences on smartphones don’t take full advantage of the device. As Google discovered, even when you offer a voice-only experience, users will often interact with the screen when it is in front of them.
Google Assistant’s initial implementation for the smartphone used little more than text and chips (i.e. suggestion buttons) to augment the voice experience. Today’s announcement offers insight into where voice interaction on smartphones is headed. Multimodal interaction with assistants is the logical extension of the voice experience when the context involves a display to offer an enhanced experience. This will be one of the key changes to voice assistant use cases over the next year as smartphone usage increases and voice-plus-visual interactions become more common.
There is a lot of attention given today to smart displays such as the new Echo Show 2nd Gen and Lenovo Smart Display. These devices are focusing attention on a new category of screens with voice assistants. However, the user base and use cases for multimodal interactions will have far more reach on smartphones. Google’s announcement establishes a clear lead in this set of use cases.