Monday 20th August 2018

Enhanced features coming to Google Assistant

Joe West
by on 27th February 2018

Google is expanding the capabilities of its voice-controlled Assistant service to make it more competitive with rival platforms, according to an official blog.

At the moment just eight languages are supported, but over the next few months this will be extended to 30. And with automatic language detection, users will not need to fiddle with the settings manually to be understood in their native tongue.

The advantage is clear for multi-user households where different languages are spoken. This will be key to growing the market share of Google Assistant as it combats Amazon Alexa on the Echo speaker range, as well as Siri on Apple’s new HomePod.

Amazon is winning the sales race at the moment, with millions of Echo speakers sold during the festive shopping period in 2017, according to chief executive Jeff Bezos. Its ability to tie in Alexa with its existing services and market to its vast customer base is an obvious advantage.

Google has the opportunity to fight back with its planned Assistant update by rolling the service out to the majority of Android devices this year. The intention is to reach 95 per cent of users in 2018, and it has been collaborating with smartphone manufacturers to achieve this goal.

The diverse nature of the Android ecosystem has made this a challenge but the search giant is aiming to make the Assistant user experience as consistent as possible on every device. It is also allowing unique interactions to be available on certain products to win over its manufacturing partners.

Sony and LG are amongst the brands mentioned and Google’s announcement came just days before the start of Mobile World Congress 2018, which got underway on Monday in Barcelona, Spain.

According to comScore voice search is projected to account for half of all queries made online by 2020 and, as search is Google’s main area of expertise as well as a huge source of ad revenue, it will need to make sure that its Assistant service snatches a healthy slice of this emerging market.

A recent report from Stone Temple found that while voice search use is on the increase, it still only makes up less than a fifth of mobile searches.