Google Assistant Makes New Connections: Google’s CES News
Google deployed a barrage of new features and tools for Google Assistant this year at CES. The tech giant offered up several noteworthy additions to its digital assistant’s toolkit, check out some of the biggest news from Google at CES.
Speaking from the Web
Google is adding its voice technology to the greater online world by adding a way for Google Assistant to read a long article or other content on a webpage. Users just have to say “Hey Google, read it” when the webpage is open on any Android device. Google’s AI will also be able to distinguish between relevant text and other things on the page like the menu or social media sharing buttons. At some point Google said it will enhance the feature with autoscrolling and highlighting, but those elements have not been added yet. The voice won’t just read aloud in the language of the website, it can also translate it into 42 different languages, extending Google Translate into voice.
Relatedly, Google introduced a translation feature to every device with Google Assistant last year that allows for real-time translations during phone conversations with someone who doesn’t share your language. Now, the company is partnering with Volara and SONIFI, who provide voice technology to hotels, offices, and other venues, to add the real-time translation to conference rooms and events around the world. American Airlines, HSBC, and a bunch of hotels are already bringing the translation software on-board.
Actions on a Schedule
One simple new feature with big implications is the ability to schedule when Google Assistant performs a task. When asking Google Assistant to turn on or off a smart home device, you can add a time to do so. That means you can ask the voice assistant to turn on the lights and start a coffee maker in the morning or set a time for a heater to turn on so its warm when you get home.
Those Google Actions, scheduled or otherwise, will have a lot of new devices to work with. Along with Google’s own brand of products, Google Assistant will now power the platforms of many smart home brands. August Smart Locks, lights from Philips Hue and Yeelight, GE washers, Moen showers, and MerossSmart garage door openers can all now be run by voice through Google Assistant. The voice assistant can manage them in a group as well, syncing a smart TV with the lights to improve the viewing experience.
Sticky Notes and Speed Dialing
Google is trying to make smart displays more family-friendly with its new sticky notes and speed dial features. Sticky notes let a user dictate a note to Google Assistant that will be on the lock screen of a smart display for themselves or others in the house as an easy reminder, while speed dial does the same with a few phone numbers to streamline calling people using the device.
GAAS on the Road
Google hit the road at CES with a couple of announcements. The new Google Android Automotive OS integrates into a car and works as a replacement for the factory settings, with Google Assistant, Google Maps and voice apps from the Google Play Store available. Google showed off the new Volvo XC40 Recharge, the first car to offer the operating system. There’s also a new wireless version of Android Auto, displayed in a BMW at CES. Android phones can use the system to connect with a car without a USB port. That it was a BMW is also important since BMW until now only ever came with Apple CarPlay.
Google Assistant all over
With more than 500 million monthly active users in 90 countries and speaking 30 languages, Google Assistant is spreading quickly. The voice assistant is on more than a billion devices and Google is very optimistic about the future prospects of voice technology according to Scott Huffman, vice president of engineering for Google Assistant, who opened the Voice Live at CES. The company is working particularly on improving discoverability and supporting third-party developers for Google Assistant. The new features and partnerships are all shaped around reaching those goals.