Google is launching a new, conversational smart assistant that goes beyond its existing voice-activated search features.
The Google Assistant is designed to work across all of a user’s devices and let users communicate through a chat thread to give everything an “ongoing two-way dialogue with Google.”
“We want to give each user its own individual Google,” CEO Sundar Pichai said onstage at the company’s I/O developers conference.
Google says its natural language processing is “an order of magnitude ahead of everyone else,” which the company says will make its assistant smarter than offerings like Apple’s Siri or Amazon’s Alexa. Plus, it could pull in data from other services like Google Maps.
For example, if you’re in front of the Bean sculpture in Chicago, you could just ask your phone, “Who designed this?” and Assistant would return the correct name.
Assistant is essentially a rebrand of “Now,” and it can similarly be used for speaking, though there are now text-chat capabilities as well through Google’s newly launched app Allo.
The assistant will work across smartphones, watches, and Google’s new speaker device. That device, called Home, is Google’s answer to Amazon’s sleeper hit Echo, but the company says one of its advantages is that search is baked in.