CES is where all the new digital assistant products are released as well as all the new digital assistant announcements. Google have a big presence at CES once again this year and their presence is dominated by Google Assistant.
Overnight they have taken the wraps off all the new goodies that we should expect to see on our favourite virtual assistant this year.
Google Assistant Connect
Apparently a barrier for manufacturers to install Google Assistant on their devices was cost involved but now with Google Assistant Connect it will be much easier and cheaper.
Google are providing a new set of tools for developers which take the brunt of the work from the device manufacturer and placing it squarely on Google Assistant’s ample shoulders. The Google Assistant on your smart speaker handles the “higher-order computing” and then uses Assistant Connect to deliver that information to the linked device.
Google used a basic e-ink display attached magnetically to a fridge as a demonstration of this new feature. As simple as that sounds, I think I want one.
There is no word when we will start seeing this in actual devices but of course you can be sure we will be all over it when it does.
We have seen the Lenovo Smart Clock already announced by Lenovo this morning but with Google giving it a specific mention in their blog it seems that this may well not be the last Smart Clock we see arrive in the market.
Improved Google Maps integration
Although Google keep promising full Google Assistant functionality everywhere it is still not here. Google are TODAY starting to roll out new functionality while navigating in Google Maps.
After the update you will be able to “share your ETA with friends and family, reply to text messages, play music and podcasts, search for places along your route, add a new stop and auto-punctuate your message.”
When you are driving Assistant will calculate your ETA from Google Maps if you want to send it to your friends. Just ask Assistant to “take me home” and Google Maps will open from where you will be able to get Assistant to perform all of the above functionality.
It is unclear whether this will work with Android Auto but you can be sure we will be testing it every day, twice a day until it does.
More travel information
Google have some decent travel information already grouped together at your fingertips but soon, beginning with United Airlines but hopefully rolling out to all airlines soon, you will be able to use Google Assistant to check in to your flight, save and retrieve a boarding pass.
Hey Google, check in to my flight
You will not even have to remember the flight number and Assistant will even remind you when a flight is ready for check-in.
Assistant will also be able to be used to book a room with partners including Choice Hotels, AccorHotels, InterContinental Hotels Group, Priceline, Expedia, Mirai and Travelclick. Along with that Google will be adding support for Google Keep, Any.do, Bring! and Todoist to “keep track of your itinerary with notes and lists in the Google Assistant.”
Need an interpreter?
To activate you just ask Google Assistant to be your interpreter which will be real-time spoken and written translation to help your conversation.
Google are hoping to expand this service to more places allowing you to check in at a foreign hotel or to help you understand the bus or train timetable.
Not all phones have the ability to unlock a device but soon, with an opt-in within your settings, Google Assistant will be able to respond to you when the phone is locked. You will be able to ask it to show you nearby restaurants, set and dismiss alarms, schedule reminders and timers, all without unlocking the phone.
There will also be the ability to opt-in to more detailed personal information such as traffic updates to work or calendar updates. This functionality is already available to Pixel users but will be rolling out to all Android devices in the “next few weeks”.
With most of these changes rolling out in the next few weeks the increasing functionality of Google Assistant will be difficult to keep track of but well worth trying.
What can you see yourself using most out of all the added functions above?