Having made impressive progress since its launch back in 2016, Google Assistant is fast becoming one of the smartest virtual assistants available. At the Google I/O developer conference earlier in 2019, a whole host of new features were announced to improve user experience, from enhanced speeds to personalised functionality and more.
Google Assistant – What You Need to Know
Google Assistant already had the ability to carry out a multitude of useful tasks like controlling your music, setting reminders or timers and answering queries using information online.
As of 2019, you can use Google Assistant for even more sophisticated errands. The majority of these updates are available on the latest Google phones - Pixel 3 and Pixel 3a range, most current Android smartphones and iOS too – but some are exclusive to Google Home devices.
So, what’s New for Google Assistant?
Maybe the most noticeable update of all, Google Assistant speech recognition is now up to 10x faster. As well as being speedier, after it hears “Ok Google” or “Hey Google”, Google Assistant can now perform continuous conversation.
This means you no longer need to trigger a response with Wake Words each time you have a question – Google Assistant will listen out for your next query. This feature should make it much easier to multi-task or use several apps at once, and makes the process of using a virtual assistant feel more natural.
Book Yourself a Taxi
Stuck somewhere and need to get home? Thanks to this update, you need never be stranded without a cab again. Give Google Assistant a simple voice command and it’ll use Google Maps to find your destination, then book you a ride based on your current location.
This feature is compatible with Uber, Lyft, Grab and several other high-profile private transportation apps. To help you save money, Google Assistant compares the cost of your journey according to various local providers, leaving you to choose the cheapest service available.
While it could already help you translate speech in real-time using Pixel Buds, Interpreter Mode is now available on Google Home and smart display devices. Designed to make 27 different languages accessible through Google Assistant, Interpreter Mode makes the speech to translation process feel seamless.
To activate it, just say “Hey Google, be my Spanish interpreter” and watch as your speech is translated on screen, then read aloud.
Screen Calls with Your Hands Free
This one’s for the Pixel 3 users. If you find yourself dodging unsolicited calls, Google Assistant can help. With the call screening feature, Google Assistant will answer the phone for you and provide a live transcript of the conversation as it unfolds.
If it turns out to be a nuisance call, you can choose to “report as spam”, and they won’t be able to contact you again.
Assistant Driving Mode
This is a thoughtful addition, designed to minimise the disruption your smartphone can cause while driving. As well as smart navigation, the Assistant Driving dashboard reads out caller ID when somebody rings you, and asks if you’d like to answer or decline, which you can do with your voice.
Like a podcast for your journey? Whether you’re into comedy, pop culture or true crime, Driving Mode can help you pick up exactly where you left off with your favourite shows, just ask Google Assistant to “resume podcast”.
There are some smaller features worth mentioning too. Unlock your screen with a voice command via Google Assistant settings, and the phrases used to trigger Google Assistant have become shorter (you can just say “stop” instead of “Ok Google, stop timer”).
Google Assistant is steadily getting smarter and more accessible – we can’t wait to see what other updates are in the pipeline.