The Android versus iPhone debate is one step closer to not being a debate at all. Although iPhone users have been asking Siri to complete chores for them for years, Android users have only recently had access to a comparable virtual personal assistant. Many users say those years of waiting were worth it. In mid-2016, Google released the Google Personal Assistant to Android users with select models. Less than a year later, Google Assistant is now integrated into Google Home, Android Wear, and is coming soon to a television near you. The assistant has been highly rated; some say it is better than Siri or Cortana.
What Is Google Assistant?
The virtual assistant’s biggest trademark is its ability to engage in two-way conversation with its users. You can either ask questions or request information out loud or by typing to the Google Personal Assistant, and it will send you the information back via spoken word or written text. From there, you can continue the conversation by asking the assistant to elaborate, or to continue to provide information on the topic. Many other assistants treat each question as a separate response, rather than a continuation of a topic. And since the assistant has the help of Google to help, it can suggest further topics to explore if you are interested in learning something new.
In a review Cortana, Siri, and Google Assistant, Mark Hachman of PCWorld noted, “Google Assistant is the buddy you’re backpacking across Croatia with, helping you kill time before the bus arrives in an hour or two.” When you ask the assistant to entertain you, it gives a variety of suggestions, including games found on Google, or jokes from the Internet.
What Can Google Assistant Do?
Like many other virtual assistants, Google Assistant is a call-response type of program that responds after requesting a task, information, or asking a question. You can ask to search the web for information, and the application will return search results for you. You can also ask it to entertain you, or to suggest recipes for dinner. There are numerous requests the assistant will respond to. If you need ideas or want to know what the assistant’s latest tricks, the Google Assistant website gives recommendations.
To begin any request, you can type directly into your phone or say “Okay Google.” If you want to use a unique call, you can retrain the assistant to respond to a wide variety of words. The assistant can also work with other apps you may have on your phone including music apps, games, or smart home control apps. Just say, “Okay Google, play shuffle on Pandora”. It should be noted that the assistant doesn’t have the same functions between Android Wear, Google Home, and Android Phones. Google Home plays nature sounds and let you shop, but the assistant can only tell you basic information via Android Wear.
Google Assistant Surprises
Anyone who has played PC or video games knows that many games come equipped with game secrets. Through trial and error, users have discovered the assistant’s “Easter Eggs” that give users unexpected features. You can ask the virtual assistant to speak like Yoda from Star Wars by saying “talk like Yoda”, ask it to flip a coin or roll a die, or ask, “Where’s Waldo?” for a fun surprise. The app also comes with some fun games that you can play directly with the assistant like Mad Libs or asking it to use a crystal ball to give you a random answer.
The Future of Google Assistant
Google adds content on a regular basis, so there are always new surprises. For instance, in honor of Earth Day, the assistant now tells you where the nearest recycling center is, or can play nature sounds. Google intends to get a high functioning virtual assistant into everyone’s hands in the coming years. Although the assistant is currently only available on Android platforms, iPhone users soon may be able to choose between Siri and the Google Personal Assistant on their phones and tablets.