Google Assistant was one of the stars of Wednesday’s keynote at I/O 2017. It’s gained a number of new features and expanded beyond its Android-based roots.
As expected, Google is making Assistant available on the iPhone, where it’ll compete with Apple’s built-in Siri — the original smartphone assistant — and Microsoft’s Cortana, which has its own iOS app. Assistant will be a standalone app that’s compatible with iPhones running iOS 9.1 or better.
Assistant is also getting a number of new features that I’ll describe below.
Notifications: Home will alert users when it has important information to share, beginning with things like traffic delays, flight statuses and reminders. The device won’t talk on its own but will light up when an alert is ready — much like the Alexa notifications that Amazon just announced for its devices.
Type to Assistant: Recognizing that not every situation is appropriate for talking out loud, users will be able to communicate with Assistant by typing on the phone.
Integration with Lens: Assistant will work in unison with Google Lens, the company’s new AI-based visual search tool also announced at I/O today. Users will be able to use Assistant to learn more and take actions on images they photograph with Lens (as shown below).
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