Rights & Money

Smartphones Just Keep Getting Smarter

Google Assistant is changing the game in voice assistants

By Katrina Caruso

Photo: iStock/chombosan.

It may not have Siri’s famous sense of humour, but Google Assistant is being touted as the application to keep an eye on, with new capabilities emerging rapidly. Before today, you could get it for use on Android phones, but now you can also download the app for iPhone through the App Store. While it may not replace Siri for iPhone users, it may still be worth checking out.

As with other voice assistants, the main purpose is to find answers to queries, and it’s meant to feel conversational, but Google Assistant allows users to type out their questions, which could come in handy in locations where speaking aloud isn’t ideal, such as at work or in a public restroom.

Photo: Google.

Google Assistant can sync to third-party apps such as Uber and OpenTable, and GE announced in May 2017 that users will be able to set up their smart appliances (including washer/dryers, dishwashers, and more) to work with the app using GE’s Geneva software.

This month, Google announced that the application is expanding into Android tablets operating with Marshmallow and Nougat systems (though, that’s currently an option only in the United States). Google is also working to grow Assistant’s language offerings: it currently supports languages including (but not limited to) French, German, Japanese, and Spanish, with more on the way.

Google Assistant stems from the pre-existing Google Now, which was already able to pull information from a user’s phone habits to learn such things as workplace or favourite NHL team, which could make for interesting conversations. It’ll be interesting to see what’s next.