At the Mobile World Congress that is currently underway in Barcelona, Google has announced a significant expansion of its Google Assistant digital helper.
First, the company is planning to expand Google Assistant into the developing market. The number of Android phones that come with a Google Assistant button will rise dramatically, with handset makers like Nokia and LG reportedly “going all-in” with the button by adding it to their full portfolio of Android devices moving forward. Xiaomi, Vivo and TCL will also follow suit, at which point Google projects that more than 100 million devices will feature the button.
Google is also trying to make the feature more consistent across devices, with a single press launching it, a double press opening up the info feed, and a long press launching its walkie-talkie mode. Assistant will also be expanding its capabilities in the up-and-coming phone platform KaiOS. Any time a user of KaiOS sees a cursor on their screen, they will be able to use Google Assistant for voice typing. The operating system is aimed at low-end phones which often have smaller screens, so users are expected to welcome the alternative to typing.
Google’s Behshad Behzadi remarked: “If you look at the emerging markets, we’ve seen that the number of Assistant users has multiplied by seven. The main reason for this is that for the new users which are coming to this technology for the first time, voice is really the easiest and most natural way for them to use their phones. It’s removing a technology barrier for these users.”
Google also announced that it will support seven new Indic languages and enhance its support for people who speak multiple languages.
Assistant comes to Android Messages
Google Assistant will also be coming to Google’s default texting application, Android Messages. When users are chatting with their friends about a topic like restaurants, movies or the weather, Assistant displays suggestion bubbles that users can send to their friends. For example, if a user is talking about being hungry or uses a pizza emoji, suggestions of nearby pizza restaurants will pop up in a listing that can be shared with whomever they’re chatting with. The cards for each restaurant will have a shortcut from which users can call the restaurant, create a calendar event, or get a map to the location. The initial rollout is worldwide, although it will just be available in English at first and will only work for weather, movies and restaurants.