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Hey Google, Can You Understand Me Now? Good!

Google Assistant

Smarter, better, faster, stronger: that’s an apt description for the new and improved Google Assistant coming out of Google’s annual I/O Developer Conference. After three years of fine tuning, Google’s latest update of its stalwart voice assistant is the biggest and boldest yet. In fact, it could mark the entry point into the next generation of voice-activated technology.

The most significant upgrade unveiled during the I/O Conference is around speed. Google Assistant now delivers responses 10x faster than it did before. To put that figure into perspective, a demo of this new version accurately responded in rapid succession to 12 different prompts in just 41 seconds. These requests range from launching various apps to getting information about the weather to activating features on one’s phone like the flashlight. What’s even better, you no longer have to repeat the awkward wake phrase—Hey, Google—between each request in order for Google Assistant to work.

Speed is a crucial feature for voice tech usage and user experience. The two main criticisms around voice assistants like Google Assistant and Siri are that they’re too laggy or just inaccurate. The massive speed boost in the latest version of Google Assistant represents a huge step forward in taking these digital assistants further into mainstream use.

Google Assistant

Beyond being faster, Google Assistant is now smarter as well. Advancements in both neural network research and speech recognition are bolstering Google’s AI engineering pedigree, creating a more intuitive voice assistant in the process. So, beyond just being able to open apps like Lyft in record time, Google Assistant can now launch the ride sharing app and order a Lyft for you since the software already knows your exact location.

With heavy competition from the likes of Apple and Amazon, these advances could ensure Google remains the dominant information provider and search service of our time—no matter how a user engages with it. Google Assistant is already available on over 1 billion devices as it comes preinstalled on Android phones, the world’s most popular mobile OS. That fact, coupled with these impressive new upgrades, should leave Siri quaking in her digital boots. If Google can crack the code on a seamless, effective voice-first experience, we could witness a mass migration away from Apple to Android-powered devices.

Yet another key differentiator for Google Assistant is an update to its voice concierge feature. This allows the digital assistant to automatically fill out forms on the web, such as booking airfare or signing up for a reward’s program, with just a simple verbal request. Now just imagine that capability in everything from your car to your refrigerator. Putting the power of Google into any piece of tech and making it into a voice-first experience could untether us from any singular device, meaning access to information could feasibly happen anytime, anywhere through our speech alone.

As more users move away from text-based queries and touchscreen displays, our voices are becoming the most prominent tool for getting the information that we want. Google Assistant’s latest update is moving us closer to instant gratification in a voice-first paradigm. In fact, we could be closer to a voice dominated world than ever before, according to Manuel Bronstein, vice president of product for Google Assistant. “We could potentially see a world where actually talking to the system is a lot faster than tapping on the phone, and if that happens -- when that happens -- you could see more people engaging,” he said.

Once again, Google seems poised to completely revolutionize and disrupt how we go about engaging with technology. With these latest advancements to Google Assistant, that disruption should prove to be louder than ever.

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