Of all of my Google devices, Google Home is quickly becoming my favorite. I use it for everything from catching up on the morning news, listening to music or podcasts, and getting information with a simply command. With Google Assistant built-in and Google continually adding functionality, we are only now seeing the tip of the iceberg of what Google Home could be doing for us and our smart homes in the future.
Normally Google Home is $129 but through the month of December, at the Google Store, you can pick one up for $79. That $50 savings would effectively let you buy a Google Home Mini (nearly two in fact) so you can have Google Assistant available to you in multiple rooms in your home. The Home Mini is down to just $29 right now at the Google Store.
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Microsoft has rolled out another update to Microsoft Cortana, their personal assistant app & service, for Android. The update is version 2.9.10 for those keeping score at home and should be hitting devices with the Assistant installed over the course of the next few days.
There are several improvements in this update, the most visible of which is and enhanced upcoming view for better calendar and missed reminders management. Now calendar events are more discretely listed in the Upcoming page which makes it easier to find upcoming events and reminders. There is also a new “Here’s what I can do” card at the top of the Upcoming tab to help you with some of the commands that you can give to Cortana.
Smart Suggestions for tasks have also been improved in this update. These include the ability to have a reminder added or an event added.
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In a Business Insider report that was published today, Microsoft Cortana only trails Google Assistant in overall answer accuracy as well as the number of questions asked. In fact, Assistant and Cortana were well ahead of Apple Siri and Amazon Alexa in both categories.
The report focused on the news from earlier this week that Apple is replacing Bing as the default search engine for Siri in MacOS High Sierra and iOS 11 and points out that the move, which will have Siri leverage Google Search APIs, will likely dramatically help Apple’s assistant in its use and accuracy.
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This week Google introduced a lot of new hardware to us. In one two hour window we saw the likes of two new phones, the Google Pixel and Pixel XL, a new Wi-Fi solution, Google Wi-Fi, and a connected home device, Google Home. With Google Home and the new Pixel phones, we also saw the scope of what Google plans with Google Assistant. Google Assistant is an artificial intelligence driven tool designed to give you information, both general and personal, just a voice command away.
The question facing us, as humans, is how do we adapt in what is clearly a shift to an Artificial Intelligence world? Google by their own admission have 70 billion data points in their knowledge graph. That is anything from a point on a map to a restaurant that is tied into OpenTable to when you are traveling to London next. It is a vast amount of information. Equally, if there is one truth to artificial intelligence it is that it always wants (needs) more information. The more information the better because it gets smarter, more personal and more accurate.
With so many companies driving AI, not just Google, the question isn’t a matter of if it will happen. It is a question of how fast it will progress. I dare say it will be neck-breaking fast. What we see in Google Home and Google Assistant today will be far richer and more knowledgeable in just 12 months from now. By 2018, AI will be so intertwined with our world that we will no longer think about it being there.
Perhaps the more accurate question then is if you trust Google’s AI? I say yes. If there is one company that truly understands the power of information and personal data, it is Google and while they will surely use that data for profit, they equally understand that any leak of that data would be catastrophic for the company. They are the best equipped not only to provide the best AI experience but protect us and our data from those who want to dismiss it.
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