Google Assistant gains photo context, mobile payments, and third-party development

We said in our Google I/O 2017 roundup that Google Assistant would be a hot button topic at the Google I/O conference, and our instincts were right. Google took to the stage to announce some new upgrades for Google Assistant that are designed to enhance its capabilities as well as extend them to other devices.

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The Google Assistant is everyone’s own version of Google, and its to gain more functionality very soon. First off, the Google Assistant will now accept text as input. So if you’re not pleased with having those around you stare all the time while you speak into your phone, this option is for you. Google will also keep record, as it does with voice inputs, so your history will be kept track of for your own purposes (so they say!).

Google Assistant will become more conversational this year, allowing it to understand images. At this point, users engage with Google Assistant through voice, but users can’t always use voice to communicate with the AI. To that end, Google Assistant will gain the ability to discern images when using the phone’s camera app. If you’re standing in front of an announcement sign, Google Assistant will allow you to “Get Tickets” for the event or “Add To My Calendar” if you’re interested in attending. This image context for Google Assistant will allow the AI to process images as humans do.

Next, Google Assistant has been granted the ability to complete transactions. This is part of Actions on Google, so third-parties can integrate their own services. Take a meal for example, you need only to tell the Google Assistant to place a delivery order, look at a menu, tell Google Assistant what you want to order, than approve the payment once you’re presented with the price on-screen and select your address. All can be done in one place. Similar to how you order a meal at the counter in a restaurant, you’ll be able to do the same from your phone via Google Assistant and even pay with Android Pay using your fingerprint (if hardware allows).

Next, Google is now opening up Google Assistant to developers for third-party development with the new Google Assistant SDK. Google Assistant works well currently with Google apps (Gmail, Keep, Calendar, etc.), but Google Assistant will soon work with more third-party apps as well, thanks to developers who are working tirelessly on making Assistant the mobile unifier for all of Android. The Google Assistant SDK allows makers to implement the assistant into products of their own. We can’t wait to see the products people and companies build. This opens a gateway to new possibility for Google.

Google wants to push assistant to as many mobile devices as possible and looks to bring new capabilities to Android TV and other platforms with the AI. Google Assistant will work with Android TV to provide visual responses when you want to know your schedule for the weekend, or a conference at work next week. You’ll be able to view the schedule right from Android TV on-screen (no phone needed).

Perhaps the biggest headliner today when it comes to the Google Assistant, is that the search service has arrived for the iPhone, allowing iPhone users to access the same great AI that Android users do and perhaps put some pressure on Apple to improve Siri significantly. Both Android devices and iPhones will also gain support for several languages in new territories including the UK, Germany, Canada, Australia, Japan, and France. Others including Korea will gain support some time down the road later in 2017.

Google Assistant looks to be shaping up to become the “sun” around which all of Google’s devices and Android will revolve around. The search engine is betting big on deep learning and the AI technology as the future, and Android O will showcase how in-exhaustive artificial intelligence can be at the moment.

We’re covering Google I/O 2017 in its entirety, stay here at Droid Turf for coverage throughout the week.

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