Google Assistant is coming to Android Messages, one in a series of major updates introduced today at the start of Mobile World Congress Barcelona. Contextual integration of Google Assistant based on words used in conversations will be made available in Android Messages over the coming months.
A preview of what may be introduced will be shown before it’s added directly to a conversation. A press of the blue plus button in the lower left corner of an Android Messages text thread will also bring up Google Assistant.
Google Assistant suggestions in Android Messages is based on smart suggestions from Google’s little-remembered Allo chat app. Smart suggestions that predict what you should say next are also part of the visual experience with Google Assistant on Android smartphones and Google Assistant on smart displays.
Suggestions in Android Messages brings Google Assistant deeper into the realm of the kind of contextual conversational suggestions that have been available from M Suggestions on Facebook Messenger since 2016.
Android users in developing countries also got good news today with the introduction of conversational AI that allows them to fill in any text field on older T9 smartphones using their voice.
Mobile enhancements for Google Assistant increasingly appear to be part of how Google intends to distinguish itself from its AI assistant competition.
Since last year, Google Assistant has been incorporated into multiple new features on Android phones, including an improved visual experience with Google Assistant on Android phones, which was introduced last October. An overview of your day — akin to the experience on a Google Assistant smart display — was made available for Android last summer.
Google Assistant for Android Maps in the U.S. was first introduced last month at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, and it will be made available for users in all other available languages in the coming weeks.
Since the introduction of Google Assistant in Google Maps, the company has seen more than 15 times the number of queries asking to send messages and read incoming text messages out loud, compared to the old maps voice experience, a spokesperson told VentureBeat in a phone interview.
Growing Google Assistant in the developing world
Alongside updates to bring Google Assistant to more experiences in Google Maps and Android Messages, the intelligent assistant is also getting smarter about helping people who speak more than one language, as you can now change your assistance language in Google Assistant using your voice.
While active Google Assistant use went up 4 times last year in many parts of the world, active use went up 7 times in developing countries around the world, a company spokesperson told VentureBeat.
Multilingual Google Assistant support was also expanded today to Korean, Hindi, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, and Dutch. Multilingual support for Google Assistant was first introduced in August 2018, making Google Assistant one of the only AI assistants available that can switch back and forth to understand different languages at the same time.
In other conversational AI advances, Google introduced Interpreter Mode for translations in 27 languages last month, while last week the company introduced its speech-to-text service in 7 new languages and announced a reduction in speech recognition errors of 29 percent.
In addition to the ability to fill out forms on iOS, which will roll out over the next few weeks on iOS devices, eight new languages (primarily spoken in India) were introduced today for Google Assistant interactions: Marathi, Bengali, Tamil, Telugu, Gujarati, Kannada, Malayalam, and Urdu.
Actions on Google voice apps will also be coming to KaiOS and Android Go phones. KaiOS has been used by more than 15 million active users and Android Go by people in more than 100 countries. Actions that don’t require a screen will automatically become available for consumers at launch.
Also announced today: dedicated Google Assistant buttons for smartphones from LG, Nokia, and Xiaomi.
Dedicated buttons are used in addition to things like Active Edge, which lets you squeeze the side of Pixel smartphones to speak with Google Assistant.
Other flagship smartphones, like Samsung’s S10 smartphones, also have a dedicated button for assistant access.
Access to Google Assistant is also available with a long press of the home button on Android smartphones.