[MWC 2019] Google announces more ways to use the Google Assistant


Google made their way to Barcelona and into MWC 2019 to make a handful of announcements. We already know the company has new partners that are putting the Google Assistant button on their devices. Now, the search giant is announcing new ways to use the Google Assistant.

Google Assistant is already helping people who use Google Maps with hands-free directions as well as users who ask it to make a call or send a text. Google says they are seeing 15 times the number of queries asking for the Google Assistant to send a message (compared to before). So Google is rolling out Assistant to Google Maps in all Assistant phone languages.

The Google Assistant in Messages

Google is also rolling out (for English users only) suggestions in the Messages app. This feature will enable you to get more info about movies, restaurants, and weather inside the Messages app. The Messages app uses on-device AI to offer suggestion chips relevant to your conversation, helping you to quickly find and share information as you chat one-on-one with your best friend, or in a group chat with your entire family.

Information isn’t sent to the Google Assistant until you tap on the Assistant suggestion chips. From there, you can decide if you want to share that information back into your conversation. Google says the content of your conversations is never sent to Assistant, only the entity listed on the chip you clicked. In case you’re worried about privacy.

Basically, if you’re chatting with someone in Messages you can quickly look something up at any point in the conversation. Just long press the Home button with the Messages app open on your phone, and your Assistant will pop up to help.

The Google Assistant
The Google Assistant in Messages.

Get Assistance When You Need It

Google says that tens of millions of KaiOS and Android Go phones with the Assistant built in have been sold over the last few years. As these phones have become more popular, Google has seen a seven times increase this past year in the number of active users for the Assistant in India, Indonesia, Mexico, and Brazil.

In these places where people are coming online for the first time, millions of people are discovering that voice is a more natural way to interact with technology and they’re overcoming technological hurdles that seemed out of reach before.

Dewi, a young mother from Indonesia, wanted to redesign her porch and improve her garden, but with so many websites and mobile apps to choose from, she didn’t know where to start. So she decided to ask her Google Assistant on her phone for help, accessing information in a way she hadn’t before. Using the Assistant, Dewi found design references, tutorials and how-to guides—everything she needed to tackle her overwhelming project. Now, she’s using the Assistant regularly to discover new recipes and cooking techniques, help her little brother with his homework and find the best prices available online while shopping.

“My daily activity has really changed. The Google Assistant has helped me to learn a lot of things that I wasn’t aware of before.” – Dewi from Makassar, Indonesia

Google Press Release

Getting More Things Done With Assistant

Google also announced a handful of other new features for the Google Assistant and related devices. You can now use your voice to do more even on feature phones. Feature phones can be hard to type on with their small keyboards. So Google will be launching Voice Typing for KaiOS so the Assistant can help translate speech to text in a natural, convenient way.

With the cursor in the right field, you can press and hold the Assistant button on your phone and use your voice to dictate your text messages, web searches or anything else that has a text field. If you’re someone who likes to navigate your feature phones’ menus and settings in English, but prefer to talk, text and search in your native language, now you can keep your KaiOS phone’s language in English and use a different language for your Google Assistant.

The Google Asssitant
Google Assistant in Kai OS

Google is also adding eight Indic languages to the Google Assistant. Now, all users in India can talk to the Assistant in Marathi, Bengali, Tamil, Telugu, Gujarati, Kannada, Malayalam and Urdu. And if you want to change your Assistant’s language on the fly, you can just say, “Ok Google, talk to me in Bengali.”

Google is also rolling out multilingual support for more languages. Now, you can select any language pairing from Korean, Hindi, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish and Dutch, in addition to the languages that were supported from the get-go: English, Spanish, German, French, Japanese and Italian.

Google is also partnering with local developers and brands to build more “relevant” actions.

In the coming months, developers will be able to release their Actions on Android 9 Pie (Go Edition) and KaiOS devices so entry-level smartphone and feature phone owners can access more locally relevant experiences. Some of those experiences we’re looking forward to bringing to millions more people include Galinha Pintadinha’s family-friendly Action in Brazil, and a better experience for cricket fans in India so they can stay up to date on the latest matches.

With Assistant in Messages and Google Maps, Voice Typing on KaiOS, more natural voice controls and physical buttons for the Assistant on more phones, your Google Assistant is ready to help in the places you need it most. If you haven’t used your Assistant on phones to get things done while you’re on the go, now’s the time to Make Google Do It.

Google Press Release

Google also announced a handful of other features coming soon to the Google Assistant.

Flight Check-in with Lufthansa, SWISS and Austrian Air

  • We recently announced the ability to check-in to a flight with your Google Assistant. In the coming weeks, you’ll be able to check in for your Lufthansa, SWISS or Austrian Air flight within Europe, simply with the power of your voice.
  • This will be available in English and German for flights within Europe.

Digital Wellbeing tools expand to new markets

  • As technology becomes increasingly woven into our day-to-day lives, making sure it’s improving life—instead of distracting from it—is more important than ever. Over the last few months, we’ve started rolling out support for Digital Wellbeing controls in the Google Assistant. In English, German and French markets, you can ask your Assistant how much time you’ve spent on your phone for the day, set wind down times and toggle “do not disturb” mode.

Multiple Actions available in two new languages

  • A key part of having a natural conversation is being able to ask about many things at once. With Multiple Actions now available in French and German, the Google Assistant will be able to understand more complex queries like “What’s the weather like in Paris and in Berlin?”

So lots of stuff happening with Google Assistant. What do you think of all these new features and plans? Let us know in the comments below or on Twitter, or Facebook. You can also comment on our MeWe page by joining the MeWe social network.

Last Updated on February 3, 2021.


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