Google Assistant to Provide Enriched Visual Responses on Android Devices


Image Credit: Google

Google announced last week in its Keyword blog that Android phones will receive a visual update for Google Assistant. The post says the update “will provide better visual responses and more complete information at a glance.” Responses from Assistant will now include cards, a new interface for categories like events, access to tools like a tip calculator, metronome music pacer, and bubble level. Google suggests asking Assistant for “Events in Mountain View” or “Why is grass green” to see the changes on Android phones. The updates are rolling out now on Android phones. Here are examples of what Google is calling the ‘rich results’ Android users will now see.

Update Indicates Importance of Voice Assistant Access on Smartphones

The update of Assistant’s visual responses on Android phones is indicative of the importance of having voice assistant access on smartphones. Google wants to make using the Assistant as user-friendly as possible and the company recognizes the importance of having a well designed graphical user interface, indicated by the fact that this is Google’s second GUI update for Assistant responses on Android devices in the past year. In a Voicebot post about the first update, Bret Kinsella hit on an important point,

Multimodal interaction with assistants is the logical extension of the voice experience when the context involves a display to offer an enhanced experience.

Improving the user experience of Google Assistant on smartphones is a smart move to make, especially when considering that in 2018, Google found that nearly half of all interactions with Google Assistant included both voice and touch input. The Voicebot Smart Speaker Consumer Adoption Report 2019 also found that voice assistant use on smartphones rose to 70.2% in January 2019, a big increase from 56.7% in January 2018.

Indicates the Importance of Multimodal Voice Assistant Access, Too

Recent years have seen an influx in the introduction of smart displays, and subsequently the importance of multimodal access to voice assistants. Consider the Amazon Echo Spot and Echo Show, the Google Home Hub, Lenovo Smart Clock (GA), and Smart Display (GA), JBL Link View (GA), Lenovo Smart Tab (Alexa), and LQ ThinkQ Smart Display (GA). All are either Alexa or Google Assistant enabled, and their development points to the trend of multimodal access.

Voicebot research also confirms the importance of multimodal access to voice assistants. The Voicebot Smart Speaker Consumer Adoption Report 2019 determined that by the end of 2018, smart displays were owned by 13.2% of smart speaker owners, a 558% growth rate in the total installed base from about 1.3 million to 8.7 million.

Google is not the only voice assistant interested in a multimodal approach. Amazon has delved into multimodal, offering some of the products listed above, even offering different editions of the Echo Show. In addition, Amazon has a Multimodal Alexa Skill Challenge, which was open to developers worldwide and offers a $20,000 prize for skills that make use of multimodal design to incorporate touch and visuals into a voice first approach. The competition finalists were announced late March 2019. It is very clear that multimodal use of voice assistants is here to stay, and Google is working to make sure Google Assistant is included in that conversation by updating its user experience on smartphones.

Google Assistant on Smartphones Gets Update for Multimodal Interaction and Image and Gif Displays

Amazon’s Multimodal Alexa Skill Challenge Finalists Are Out