Google Assistant Adds Coronavirus Tips
Google Assistant has added a new ‘Coronavirus tips’ shortcut to Android devices. The feature is part of Google’s overall effort to encourage people to learn about the COVID-19 pandemic and do their part to limit its spread.
Tips and Discovery
The coronavirus tips shortcut opens the “Do the Five” public service announcement video in on Google Assistant. The video urges people to follow advice from medical professionals to wash their hands correctly, not touch their faces, cough into elbows, maintain social distance, and stay home as much as is feasible. The shortcut also pulls up recent news headlines for users to peruse. The coronavirus headlines are also now a discrete part of Google Discover, at the top of the news feed on Android devices.
The new shortcut reflects the expansive approach Google is taking to try to help people during the current pandemic. A large part of that is providing accurate information and limiting the availability of wrong or out-of-date stories related to the coronavirus. The same kind of policy is being applied across all of Google and parent company Alphabet’s products, according to CEO Sundar Pichai.
“We’re highlighting content from authoritative sources when people search for COVID-19, and inserting information panels to provide additional context from high-quality sources,” Pichai wrote in a blog post about Google’s pandemic work. “Promoting helpful information is only one part of our responsibility. We’re also removing COVID-19 misinformation on YouTube, Google Maps, our developer platforms like Play, and across ads.”
Voice Assistant Accuracy
Google Assistant has been evolving its response to the coronavirus at a rapid pace in the last month. All of the major voice assistants have been adapting to the pandemic. Google Assistant and Alexa have both removed all of the unofficial voice apps related to the coronavirus from their stores to combat the spread of bad information about the virus. Apple meanwhile has deployed a walkthrough on Siri for people to check if they have coronavirus symptoms.
Voicebot’s recent Voice Assistant Consumer Adoption Report for Healthcare found that more than half of consumers want voice assistants to be part of some aspect of their healthcare and the most common use is people inquiring about illnesses and symptoms. Being proactive about removing misinformation is the smart choice for Google and the other voice assistant developers. By relying on authorities like the CDC and WHO for their information, voice assistants can help educate people about the facts and ideally slow the false rumors that pop up during times of crisis.