Published on April 4th, 2019 | by Emergent Enterprise0
10 Ways Google Assistant Can Make People’s Lives Easier
Voice assistants have had a bumpy road to adoption mostly because of a bad UX and limited use cases. But as Khari Johnson of VentureBeat reports, as the technology matures and the scope of uses widens it is becoming more of a part of everyday life. Businesses need to get in to the action in a bigger way by using voice assistants in conference rooms and other places where there are consistent needs. At the start of a meeting the assistant could confirm your scheduling, list the attendees, set the lights and projector and more.
Photo Source: Khari Johnson / VentureBeat
Amid sharp competition from popular AI assistants like Siri and Alexa, Google Assistant arguably has a major advantage — the Android mobile operating system.
Smartphones are still the number one way people speak to their assistant, and as the smart display market grows, the assistant that interacts with YouTube, Google Maps, Google Photos, and Gmail could change the way people think about computing. We expect Google to announce major improvements to Google Assistant at the company’s annual I/O developer conference in May, but there are a few ways I think Google Assistant can be better.
None of these three digital assistants is perfect, and even after years of interaction with people, they all have some non-trivial issues to address this year. This week, three VentureBeat writers are spotlighting 10 important issues with the digital assistants they use most, starting today with Google Assistant, with Siri following Thursday and Alexa on Friday.
1. Send text messages with Home speakers
There’s a reason this is the first item on the list: It’s really hard to believe this isn’t a native feature for Google Home speakers yet, particularly following the death of Allo last month and the recent introduction of Google Assistant suggestions for Android Messages.
Sending text messages with Google Assistant is a pretty good experience on an Android phone, and Google Assistant can even send and read messages from Google Maps now, but say “OK Google, send mom a message” to a Home speaker today and you’ll hear “Sorry, I can’t send messages yet.”
We know pretty well the kinds of things people tend to do with a smart speaker. Among top use cases: Music is fun, news is helpful, and so are timers and reminders. But messages are a critical element necessary to cementing the value of voice computing in people’s minds. More so than emails or calls, messaging has become the de facto form of communication in a lot of people’s lives.
Many people today have yet to realize what’s been true now for years: It’s faster to type with your voice than it is to text with your thumbs. You don’t always want to send a message with your voice, of course — sometimes you have people over or want to say something private — but once you understand that conversational AI has grown by leaps and bounds in its recognition of the human voice, voice computing can save you a lot of time.
It also allows you to get something done as soon as it comes to your mind, not when your hands are free.
Personally speaking, there are many moments when I’m busy cooking dinner, for example, and need to send something to a loved one. Voice computing makes it possible to just say what you need.
By comparison, phone calls with Google Assistant today are great, and appear to be where Google focused its attention since the feature was introduced in late 2017. Lose your phone in the house and you can call it. Know the number you want to call and you can blurt it out. You can even ask Google Assistant about where the nearest Target or flower shop is before you know what number to call. Integrate your contacts and you can call people in your address book as well.
The addition of Slack, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and other popular messaging services would also be nice. Some of these services can be integrated today with IFTTT applets, but sending messages with your voice should really should be part of the native Google Home experience.
One way to send messages with Home speakers today is with the Broadcast feature on Google Assistant, but this is limited to people in your household. The ability to send text messages with Google Home speakers is an infinitely different thing, and opens the world to the wider circle of people who matter most to you.
That’s what makes this one of the biggest features missing from Google Assistant today.
2. Share bus routes on demand
Tell Google Assistant where you live and your work address, and every morning your Pixel smartphone can show you the time for the next bus or train that you take most often to work. You can also ask a Google Home smart speaker to send directions to your phone. But you can’t yet say, “OK Google, when is the next 5 bus downtown coming?” or “When is the next San Francisco-bound BART train due?”