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The Google Assistant tweaks and new features you have to know about [I/O 2018]

Google Assistant, the company’s rival to Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa, is being crammed into almost every Google product this year.

The company announced big plans for Assistant at its I/O developers conference this week, and we’re here to summarise it all for you into 11 tweetable bylines.

Are you ready? Have at it.

  • Google Assistant will be available in six new voices from today, with John Legend lending his rasp to the digital butler later this year too.
  • “Continued Conversations” will allow users to converse with Assistant more fluently, negating the need for “Hey Google” to be uttered before every single command. This is coming in the “coming weeks”.
  • “Multiple Actions” ties in nicely with the above, allowing users to ask Assistant a number of queries at once. For example, “What’s the weather in Cape Town and Johannesburg?” will now be understood as two queries instead of one.
  • Google’s “Pretty Please” feature will teach kids some manners when parents have no idea how to stop them from being jerks.
  • “Custom Routines” are on their way to Assistant, allowing users to bundle a number of predefined actions into one particular key phrase. A custom routine for “Netflix and Chill” for instance, would turn on the TV, open the Netflix app, dim the lights. It’s coming “later this [US] summer”.
  • Assistant is going beyond voice to support “Smart Displays”, allowing users to access Assistant by swiping on screen. These displays will be available in the US beginning July.
  • Google Keep will be integrated into Assistant too, as well as to-do list services Any.do and Todoist. This also comes with a new visual design tweak for Assistant on mobile.
  • Assistant will allow users in the US to order food from Starbucks, Doordash or Applebees “later this year”.
  • Google Maps will be made smarter by Assistant “later this [US] summer” allowing users to send messages, play music or receive information from within the Maps screen.
  • Google’s working on a project dubbed Duplex which will allow users to “make restaurant reservations, schedule hair salon appointments, and get holiday hours” — effectively, Assistant can place a call and provide businesses with the information needed on your behalf. This feature will hit testing channels later this year.
  • Google Assistant’s hardware in the Home and the Home Mini will be hitting 80 additional countries later this year.

Feature image: Google

Author | Andy Walker: Editor

Andy Walker: Editor
Camper by day, run-and-gunner by night, Andy prefers his toast like his coffee -- dark and crunchy. Specialising in spotting the next big Instagram cat star, Andy also dabbles in smartphone, gadget and game reviews over on Gearburn. More
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