Google unveils updated Assistant

04 OCT 2018

Google announced a new version of its Assistant for smartphones, which it said delivers improved results for text input, speech or a combination of the two.

Describing it as “the first major makeover” for Assistant on phones, Google said nearly half of all interactions include both voice and touch. The redesign is said to “combine voice with touch in a way that gives users the right controls in the right situations”.

The company said the new design includes bigger visuals which are easier to see quickly; new controls and sliders to manage smart home devices; and an interactive messaging interface to simplify content editing.

For Android phone users, Assistant can provide curated information based on time of day and recent interactions.

There are also new options for developers and brands to make money from Actions within Assistant. While support for transactions involving physical goods was available for some time, this has now been extended to digital content and subscriptions.

Transactions can be completed through Actions using speakers, smartphones and smart displays. Examples given were wellness app Headspace, which offers Android users an option to subscribe to plans; and Volley, providing upgrades for its Castle Master role-playing games via Assistant.

Brands can also use features including the new display options, for example with Starbucks offering thumbnail images of recommended items and FitStar using GIFs to give workout previews.

Also available is Google Sign-In for Assistant, a secure authentication method which simplifies account linking for users.

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Steve Costello

Steve works across all of Mobile World Live’s channels and played a lead role in the launch and ongoing success of our apps and devices services. He has been a journalist...More

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