Google Assistant is coming to Google Maps to help you plan your next trip. Starting today, Android smartphone users can use their voice and natural language voice commands to do things like share your ETA with a friend or loved one, search for places to stop along your route, or add a new stop to your journey.
Google Maps users with Android smartphones will also be able to ask Google Assistant to read their messages and enable hands-free reply messages with WhatsApp, SMS, Facebook Messenger, and other popular chat apps.
This isn’t the first integration of Google Maps with Google Assistant have interacted: Ask today and Google Home speakers can send directions to your phone or share directions on a smart display. In time, Google Assistant with Maps could grow more intelligent about making recommendations about nearby businesses based on your preferences. Hopefully it also means Google Home speakers will soon be able to tell you when the next bus is coming.
The news was shared today at CES 2019, the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. A series of other upgrades to the intelligent assistant were also announced, including help to check in for your next flight and get your boarding pass. Before your flight, Google Assistant will send you a reminder, or you can simply say “Hey Google, check in to my flight,” without the need to provide a confirmation number or further information.
This service will be available in the next few days and starts with United Airlines flights within the United States.
This comes on top of Google Assistant’s current ability to answer when you say “OK Google, when is my next flight?,” based on information gathered from your Gmail account.
Some Google Assistant features can seem helpful and rarely get utilized, but getting checked in quickly for a flight can be a quality-of-life issue, especially if you take an airline like Southwest, which has a first-come, first-serve seating policy.
Another way Google wants to help you travel: Google Assistant will soon respond to “OK Google, help me find a hotel,” drawing on results from popular lodging providers like Priceline, Expedia, and Choice Hotels.
Anker’s Roav Bolt and JBL’s Link Drive, devices that plug into a cigarette lighter input, give you Google Assistant control in cars without Android Auto or a modern infotainment system.
Also announced today:
- In the coming weeks, Google Home speakers and third-party smart displays will be able to act as a real-time interpreter capable of translating 27 different languages.
- Google introduced Google Assistant Connect, a way for manufacturers to make simple integrations with Google Assistant for smart home control or to display information. With Connect, a manufacturer can enable simple smart home control or make an external button (like Amazon’s Echo Buttons can carry out Routines) that allows you to, for example, turn on a washing machine or see the weather on a smart mirror.
- As Google announced in the fall, Android smartphones will soon be able to access Google Assistant without the need to unlock their phone.
- The Lenovo Smart Clock, an immediate rival to Amazon’s Echo Spot for your bedside, made its debut today. It will cost $79 and is due out this spring. The smart clock will be a new kind of visual interface that shares alarm recommendations on its face and use soft, warm light to delicately help you get out of bed in the morning at sunrise or a designated time. This use of lighting to help you get up in the morning was first seen from Google in the Pixel 3 on the Pixel Stand, but in my experience if you want this approach to be most effective, it’s best to use Gentle Wake mode with smart lights from companies like Philips Hue.
Though some are available on iOS, new features announced today continue to tie the best experience with Google Assistant to Android smartphones, a trend that was evident in some of the most popular ways to use a Google Home speaker in the past year.