Google unveiled a ton of cool new products and features today at Google I/O, many of them powered by some seriously impressive artificial intelligence going by the name of Google Assistant. Or is it a Google assistant? Err, the Google assistant? Which kinda just seems like Google Now? And while we’re asking questions … Hold on. Let’s take a step back and go over what exactly the Google assistant is, what it does and how it’s going to change the way you use Google.
What’s in a name?
Before we go any further, let’s see what Google has to say about the Google assistant:
“The assistant is an ambient experience that will work seamlessly across devices and contexts. So you can summon Google’s help no matter where you are or what the context. It builds on all our years of investment in deeply understanding users’ questions.”
There you have it. Plain as day. It’s not a personality, like Alexa, Cortana or Siri. It’s not a new service or tool like Google Now. Think of it as a new way to use Google. Or better yet, an assistant to help you use Google. The assistant to help you use Google. The Google assistant. Get it now?
What does it do?
For many years now, users have been searching Google by using complex, real, human questions. No one uses strings of boolean operators anymore, especially from a mobile phone and especially when talking to your device. Despite all this, Google still provides information back in a very blunt way.
Ask for movie times and Google will provide exactly that: a dense page of information showing movie times, links to more movie times and even some ratings of those movies. You can ask for more info on a movie, and get more info on a movie. You can even ask to buy tickets, and Google will help where it can.
The Google assistant will help take care of some of those clicks for you and automate more of the process. Instead of all the above, you ask the Google assistant what’s playing tonight, and the Google assistant gives you some highly rated movies. You let the Google assistant know you are taking kids and it will suggest a family friendly movie while asking if you want to buy tickets or watch a trailer.
The Google assistant isn’t simply Google search or Google Now, it uses Google for you. It learns your usage habits and becomes your own personal customized conversational gateway into Google. You have real, open conversations with the Google assistant. From both sides. You ask a question, it has an answer. Not a bunch of information, but a real contextual answer. Becuase the Google assistant understands you and what you are looking for.
How can I use it?
You can’t. Not yet, anyway.
The Google assistant will live in Allo, Google’s new messaging app, and on Google Home. Eventually, anywhere you can search Google, you will instead be able to call on the Google assistant for help.
And that’s all there is to it for now. We will know more and have a better understanding once the Google assistant goes live in various ways, but for now just think of it as a much more natural way to use Google.