Google Home smart speakers can now answer follow-up questions without your needing to say “Ok Google” each time.
Called Continued Conversation by Google, the new feature is available today for Home, Home Mini, and Home Max smart speakers in the United States.
As an example, you can now offer the following sequence of commands: “Hey Google, what’s the weather today?”… “And what about tomorrow?”… “Can you add a rain jacket to my shopping list”… “And remind me to bring an umbrella tomorrow morning” … “Thank you!”
After an initial question is asked using the “OK Google” wake word, the speaker will remain on, recording, and listening for up to eight seconds.
As usual, lights atop the speaker will remain activated while in Continued Conversation mode to alert people that the speaker is listening. Once speech is detected, the speaker will continue listening for a query or command.
More natural conversation could open up a range of use cases.
It’s easy to imagine a conversation that begins as a question about the best restaurant nearby and ends with “Make a reservation,” or a product query that leads to a quick purchase.
It seems likely that people who speak to their AI assistant because they’re lonely may have a better experience with this mode.
You can enable Continued Conversation in the Preferences section of your Home app if you don’t want to say “Hey Google” as often and would appreciate a more conversational approach to your Google Assistant interactions.
This kind of multi-turn dialogue is being chased by a number of AI assistant makers.
Alexa introduced the ability to answer follow-up questions last year.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella referred to multi-turn dialogue as one of the next steps for Cortana during an earnings call with analysts earlier this year. The acquisition of Semantic Machines last month is also expected to enhance Microsoft’s multi-turn capabilities.
Tests of Google’s experimental Duplex for making phone calls on behalf of Google Assistant users and businesses, which also made its debut last month, are expected to begin this summer.