Google’s keeping the Google Assistant, its AI-powered, cross-device voice and visual assistant, fresh with a steady stream of updates. Yesterday saw the rollout of an improved visual interface on Android and support for paid subscription voice apps. And today, Google took the wraps off of tighter integration with ride-hailing services like Lyft and Uber.
Starting this week, you’ll be able to compare prices and summon a car with voice commands through the Google Assistant. Saying “Hey Google, book a ride to [a destination]” or “Hey Google, get me a taxi to [a destination]” will kick off the process, and from there, the Assistant will provide price estimates and wait times for Uber, Lyft, Grab, Ola, GO-JEK, and “many more” ride-hailing apps in cities around the world. (If you specify a service in your initial request, it’ll skip the full list.)
The new ride-hailing flow works on Android, iOS devices, Google Home speakers, and third-party smart speakers that support the Assistant, with smart display support to come in the weeks ahead. It’s available in English in any country where the supported ride services are available.
Previously, the Google Assistant pulled up Google Maps if you asked to hail a taxi; now everything’s right in the Assistant window. However, there’s no hands-free way to reserve a ride — even if you request a ride on a smart speaker, bookings have to be confirmed through the service’s app on your phone.
It’s worth noting that the Uber skill for Amazon’s Alexa can summon a car with no more than a verbal confirmation. Here’s hoping the Google Assistant picks up that trick in the near future.