It is no secret that Google has big plans for Google Assistant across devices and into new countries. But the scope of that growth wasn’t very clear until now. Thanks to Dutch tech writer Elgar van der Wel, we now have a glimpse of what is to come for Assistant in 2018.
Elgar tweeted a shot of a slide from a DNI Summit event in Amsterdam that shows the growth plans and it is impressive.
The slide is a bit hard to read but the plan is for Google Assistant to be available in 17 new language and 38 new countries.
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A new beta of the Google app for Android is rolling out to testers and it has a lot of interesting, if inactive code built into it. If you want to read a full teardown of the APK, the team over at 9to5 Google have a great writeup on it. I’m focusing on the code around a physical Google Assistant button.
The code in the APK points to the ability to have a physical button for Assistant, much like the physical button you find on the Google Pixelbook today. While this button isn’t aimed at phones per se, it is aimed at Android and coincides nicely with code found last week in a commit in Chrome OS. That code suggested that a physical button could be remapped for Google Assistant. Put together, these code snippets indicate just how far Google wants to take Assistant on both platforms.
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There is little doubt that Google is on a mission to add Google Assistant to all the things. That, now apparently, includes your Chromebook. A new merged commit in the Chromium Gerrit suggest that Google Assistant flags will be coming to Chrome OS. This means that any device on the platform, assuming it meets performance specs, could potentially have Assistant a tap away.
Right now Google Assistant on Chrome OS is exclusive to the Google Pixelbook. For that device, a specific build, which enables Google Assistant, is provided each time there is a build update on the platform. But, according to this commit, a flag option could be made available to enable it on any device.
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Google has begun rolling out a feature Google Home visualization feature today, allowing you to ask Google Assistant to display the weather forecast on your Chromecast enabled device. The new feature is a cloud-side change so there is nothing for you to do. You will know when you have the feature on your account when you ask Assistant on your Google Home, “Hey Google, show me the weather on my Chromecast”.
Visualizations with Assistant and Home were shows last year at Google I/O as a way to improve getting personalized content. In the case of the weather, you can visually see the weather forecast instead of having to listen to Assistant read it back to you on your device or Google Home.
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Google is rolling out some cloud-side change to Google Assistant that will be great additions. The new updates were announced today with the headliner being that you can now set alarms to sound off with music instead of the default beeping. To do this, just say “Hey Google, set an alarm for 6 tomorrow morning that plays (insert artist name)”. This is a much more personal experience but also should prove to be far less jarring when you are woken up by your favorite artist instead of a harsh beeping.
Improvements have also been made in Google Assistant to help you find your favorite television shows. This builds on some of the functionality that Assistant already has, including the ability to start playing a show from your Chromecast enabled television on Netflix or Google Movies & TV.
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If you are aiming to get to Google I/O 2018, your first important date is February 22nd. That is when ticket sales begin at 10:00 AM Pacific which is more-or-less a ticket into the lottery to be selected.
The lottery system has been the method Google has used for the past several years as there are always far more developers interested in attending than there is space for them to attend. To attempt to make it fair, you sign up starting the 22nd and if you are selected, you complete your registration. That is, you pay for your ticket.
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In an unannounced updated, Google and Netflix have been partnering to give Voice Match support to the streaming service when using Google Assistant. With Voice Match you can now have your Netflix profile linked to your voice for your personalized content on the service when you invoke it from Assistant.
Voice Match is aimed at personalizing information for you when you interact with Google Assistant. For example, if I speak to Assistant through my Google Home, I will get my personal information (like my calendar) while if my wife speaks to it, she gets her personalized information. Think of this addition to Netflix as an extension of that same service.
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