Google Assistant is getting smarter than Google Now ever was — not only does the service support multiple languages, but it also will soon feature third-party integration, meaning that it can help you control your entire digital life — not just your Google life.
Assistant is similar to Google Now in that it allows you to ask questions and get answers. Not only that, but the service goes beyond just the smartphone and smartwatch — it’s also now featured in Google Home, Google’s answer to the Amazon Echo. And, of course, it’s found in the new Pixel smartphones, which were launched at the company’s October 4 event.
Google Assistant will feature third-party integration with Actions by Google
“Think of the assistant — we think of it as a conversational assistant — we want users to have an ongoing two-way dialogue,” Google CEO Sundar Pichai said at I/O when the feature was first announced. Of course, part of offering an ongoing conversation is being able to carry on that conversation with other apps and products.
Google Assistant will soon feature third-party integration through “Actions on Google.” These “actions” are basically ways for developers to build Google Assistant integration into their apps and services. That way, you can ask Assistant to order you an Uber or reserve a table via OpenTable.
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends
Sometimes, when a user asks Google Assistant a question, the service will be able to simply respond with direct actions. Other times, however, conversations will need to take place — for example, if you ask Assistant to book a table at a restaurant through OpenTable, it will need to ask how many people in your party and what time you want the reservation.
According to the latest reports, the Google Assistant Developer Platform will be opened up in December, and you can already see the landing page for Actions on Google, or sign up for notifications on news and updates for the service.
Google Assistant has limited language support
Assistant is still in its “Preview Edition” in Allo, but that’s like to change soon given that Google Home has now officially been launched. The AI can currently respond in English, but it can also bring up translations from Google Translate.
Google has plans to expand to more languages, and the Assistant is currently learning Hindi. Full support will come later this year, and the Assistant will also offer Smart Replies in Hindi. Smart Reply lets you quickly respond to messages with a tap, and the responses adapt to the way you talk the more you use Allo.
Google Assistant has a childhood
Google is hoping to make Assistant a little more personable, and according to a report from Fast Company, the company wants to give it a back story. Google has enlisted the help of Google Doodle head Ryan Germick, as well as ex-Pixar animator Emma Coats, to give Assistant a personality.
In fact, Coats describes working on Assistant as working on a “character,” the same way she would over at Pixar. Part of that means giving Assistant a childhood, allowing users to relate to it as if it actually had a life. Not only that, but the team is experimenting with ways to build trust between the user and Assistant by making it seem vulnerable every now and then as if it needed the user.
This is not available yet in the Preview Edition of Assistant in Allo. If you ask for its story, Assistant responds with, “I’m still on the very first chapter.”
Article originally published in May. Christian de Looper contributed to this report. Updated on 11-10-2016 by Christian de Looper: Added information on the developer platform release date.