Let’s consider the abilities of Google Assistant, and how exactly can it simplify its users’ lives
PaySpace Magazine has decided to make an overview of the most popular virtual assistants, since this software solution is becoming more and more popular nowadays.
Today’s topic is a virtual assistant from a tech giant Google, which is called, pretty straightforwardly – Google Assistant. Let’s consider the abilities of Google Assistant, and how exactly can it simplify its users’ lives.
Let’s remember some history. It is worth noting that Google Assistant, formerly Google Now, was released on July 9, 2012, along with Android 4.1. It’s worth mentioning that it was introduced as a default function on almost all Android devices, and it is also possible to install it as an application (even on the iPhone) on the wireless speaker, Google Home, with voice control. Google decided to spread its smart assistant not only among its own products (Google Pixel), so aggressive promotion endowed all Android phones with this feature (starting with version 6.0).
So, we’ve come to the Google Now vs. Google Assistant issue. Let’s clarify this question. Google Now is Google’s voice-activated personal assistant. It’s similar to Apple’s Siri or Microsoft’s Cortana applications. It is a cross-platform solution (unlike Siri or Cortana), so this option works on both Android and iOS devices. The app lets you quickly surf websites and perform a variety of tasks, such as scheduling events and your alarm clock, adjusting your device’s volume and posting different stuff on social media.
Google Now is a handy solution when it comes to the power of the internet and users’ mobile devices without excessive interaction. Like Siri or Cortana, Google Now offers hands-free accessibility, straight from the lock screen to the command, starting your conversation with “OK, Google.”
Google Assistant, in turn, is the next generation of Google Now. Actually, it performs the same tasks, and even more. However, it has become friendlier, and gives more chances to have a conversation with this interface.
Why is Google Assistant considered to be the improved version of Google Now? For example, if you ask Google Now something like “Show me the nearest restaurants?”, it will give just a list of nearby restaurants (in one sentence, without any links). Google Assistant will give you easy-to-tap card format data.
Google Assistant is also endowed with deeper artificial intelligence. You can easily have a two-way conversation with Google Assistant, since it is able to learn personal details about you (your birthday, favorite beverage, favorite music, etc) and will use data from previous conversations to fulfill your requests.
That issue is clarified. On the other hand, most smartphone users are not even aware that they have the Google Assistant (Android device owners, apparently). They just don’t know that they have this option. FYI, you should just hold the “home” button to invoke Google Assistant. Then say “Ok, Google.” It will take some time to set up the voice assistant, but after implementing this you’ll be free to use it to your advantage.
The abilities of Google Assistant
Open apps with your voice
Let’s say you are washing your hands. You can’t touch your phone since your hands are wet, but you still want to know the latest Gmail notifications. There is one solution. All you have to do is to say “OK, Google, open Gmail.” You’ll see your mail opened. You can do the same for any app.
Screen your phone calls
This feature doesn’t work for all Android devices, but if you have the latest Pixels model, you’ll also have a Call Screen feature. Google Assistant from these devices can answer the phone on your behalf. For example, it can mark a spam telemarketer’s call.
Google image search
If you need to find a specific picture (or even a compilation of some funny pictures, for example), you can leave it to Google Assistant.
Get advice on where to eat, drink, dance, or shop
Let’s imagine you are in charge of finding a good place to hang out with your friends on Friday night, and you have no clue where to go. On the other hand, your SO may ask you to find some good places for shopping. Google Assistant will help you to find decent places to have some fun. Just ask Google Assistant, and you’ll have a list of all suitable nearby venues.
Google Assistant can also act as a travel planner. Just one request, such as “Good vacation ideas” can give you a lot of suggestions. Even if you ask something like “Best places for vacation in December” GA will give you a lot of appropriate results.
Read you the news
A lot of voice assistants can deliver you the news. However, reading them to you is a different matter.
As far as we can see it, there is nothing special here. Anyway, Google Assistant can be your personal weatherman.
Send a voice message
This virtual assistant can send your message home, to your mum or your kids, straight on your Google Home speaker (we’ll get to this part later).
To cut a long story short, Google Assistant can book movie tickets, check emails and appointments, set important reminders, make up your shopping list, plan a route, send a text message for you, calculate the figures you need, make an instant translation on almost any possible language, and much more.
So, we can see that there is nothing special about this voice assistant since it can perform everything that Siri or Alexa can. On the other hand, it is quite a multifunctional and flexible assistant, which can have a two-way conversation with you.
The first thing that pops in mind is Google Home ($150-$160) and Google Home Mini (55$-$60). Both of them have “smart home” options, but the “mini” version is not so versatile and advanced.
You’ll have to use the special application from Google Play in order to connect and set up Google Home. The app will also offer you to define your favorite music service, find all the smart devices you already own, and set up commands to trigger the appropriate actions (by doing this, you will bind voice commands to the actual assistant’s moves, like the Siri Shortcuts scenario).
Now let’s go back to the “smart home” concept. Google’s assistant is as versatile as Amazon’s (Alexa), so this is the point where Siri doesn’t look that good. There are a lot of manufacturers and devices that can work with Google Assistant.
Amazon Alexa (what a surprise), Belkin WeMo, Lutron lighting stuff, Nest devices, Philips Hue lamps, Samsung SmartThings, and even Wink are Google Assistant-compatible. Moreover, there is an extensive list of other devices that are able to cooperate with this system, and you can check them on the Google official site. In short, you’ll have all the perks of the “smart home” concept, such as personal weather station, thermostats, smart cameras and locks, smart lighting gadgets, and even more.
You may ask whether this assistant is better than Alexa or Siri. We are not sure that there is a straight answer to this question. Amazon and Google really go head-to-head, while Apple’s Siri remains the more specialised option (and not cross-platform, so consequently flexible, as well). Anyway, if you are about to make a decision, it’s up to you. We can only suggest that trying different options will surely facilitate the selection process.