If you have been a user of personal assistants for a while, you would have noticed that Apple’s Siri has been falling behind, outpacing Microsoft’s Cortana with Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant taking the lead. It was not even a fair fight to begin with but if you were one of the folks who attended Google I/O 2018 in person or remotely you would have caught a demo of some of the features that Google has been working on bringing to Google Assistant. Lets explore a few of these features in more detail.
This is arguably one of the only places that Apple has a leg up with many more voices options. Google is working to close this gap by offering a and additional 6 voices – one of which being John Legend. This is great as the current 2 voices in Google Assistant can sometimes cause confusion in houses where many people use the Google Assistant. Expect these voices to roll out over the next few months.
You will finally be able to carry out a conversation with Google Assistant without needing to shout “Hey Google” or “Ok Google” between each statement. This will finally bring a feature that Amazon Alexa has had for a while when “Follow-up Mode” is active.
Google Assistant will now be able to understand context in speech in order to allow you to dictate multiple actions in the same command. You can for example say “Ok Google, Turn on the Lights and TV” or even more complicated commands such as “Ok Google, Lock the front door and text mom ‘I made it home'”.
Google Duplex is what I believe is Google’s most ambitious project to date as it combines complex natural language processing, deep neural networks, understanding human intonation and natural text to speech in order to make phone calls on your behalf to businesses. To make this more complex, this all must be done within seconds and not sound like a robot. Google of course will need to collect a lot of information about you in order to have all of the answers you would normally give. This feature is still a long way off from being released into production but the early test results look promising. If you don’t believe me – look at this video.
After the beating that Google gave Siri yesterday, I can almost imagine the following scene happening at Apple’s office yesterday