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Google has a faster and more powerful next-generation Assistant in store for its new Pixels

By Koh Wanzi - on 8 May 2019, 3:32am

Google has a faster and more powerful next-generation Assistant in store for its new Pixels

Google today had some big announcements in store for its voice assistant. At its I/O developer conference in Mountain View, the company showed off an upcoming version of Google Assisant that promises to be significantly faster and far more useful than before. 

The company refers to this as its next-generation Google Assistant, and it says it will debut on its new Pixel phones (presumably the Pixel 4) later this year, so you won't have that long to wait. But why talk when you can just show how it works? In a demonstration on stage, Google revealed an Assistant that could actually make you want to use your voice to control your phone on a regular basis.

The new Assistant can open apps nearly instantaneously, one after another, and also easily compose texts and emails. More impressively, it is capable of multi-tasking across apps. For instance, if you were texting a friend and wanted to share pictures of your latest vacation, you could instruct Assistant to pull up photos of animals you had snapped on the trip and tell it to send them to your friend. Assisant switched between Google Photos and the messaging app with no problem at all, which looked really nifty. 

It'll become more intuitive to speak to Assistant as well. Google is introducing a small feature called Continued Conversation, which basically lets you make several requests in a row without having to say "Hey Google" each time. 

According to Google, the next-generation Assistant handles requests up to 10 times faster than the existing one. This is only possible because Google managed to reduce the size of the AI models it uses to listen to and interpret speech. They're now small enough to run locally on your phone and the company says it shrunk the program down to just 0.5GB from a 100GB. This approach eliminates the delay that comes with sending data to remote servers for processing, so everything should feel much more responsive.

The Assistant also demonstrated an awareness of context as well. For instance, while in the middle of writing an email, the presenter decided to dictate the subject of the email instead, and the Assistant was smart enough not to include the subject header as part of the email itself.

In addition, Google announced something called Duplex on the web, building on the Google Duplex feature it announced last year. Duplex was originally a way for Assistant to make reservations at restaurants via phone calls, and with Duplex on the web, you'll soon be able to do the same via your web browser. However, there's no news about if or when the feature will be available in Singapore, and it'll see a roll out in the US and UK first later this year. 

Finally, Google says the Assisant will be able to provide a more personal touch through something it calls Personal References. This means that it'll understand what you mean when you refer to your mom's house, your sister's birthday, or even your anniversary.

Source: Google

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