Google has made a number of announcements around its voice assistant as part of the CES 2019 show in Las Vegas. These include Google Assistant now working on the locked screen itself on Android, a preview of its Google Assistant Connect platform, navigation via Assistant on Google Maps, the option to check in to flights in the US along with other new features.
CES has also seen a number of hardware announcements, where manufacturers are integrating Google Assistant into devices from home appliances like GE’s smart microwave to Lenovo’s Smart Clock.
Google Assistant on locked screen
Google announced that Assistant in the locked screen on Android will now respond to a user. But one has to opt-in for this particular feature in the settings. Users will able to opt-in to ask Google Assistant to show restaurants nearby, set up and dismiss alarms, schedule reminders and timers without unlocking their Android phone.
Other features offered will be answers to personal queries like traffic updates to work or calendar updates. However, this feature is currently limited to Pixel users, and will come to all Android devices in the next few weeks.
Google Assistant Connect
This is a platform for device manufacturers to bring the Google Assistant into their products, while keeping it easy to implement. The Assistant Connect uses the existing smart home platform from the company in order to expand the use of this digital assistant to newer types of devices.
Google is looking to expand its digital assistant in all kinds of possible devices with this platform. For example, these could be e-ink displays, which project a user’s daily calendar and rely on Assistant Connect to deliver content from the linked smart speaker, explains Google’s blog post on the issue.
The blog post notes that Google will have more details about Assistant Connect and how device makers can gain access to the technology later this year. This could likely be at its I/O conference, which takes in May of each year.
Google Assistant and navigation on Google Maps
From today, Google Assistant can help users navigate in the company’s Maps product. The feature will work on both Android and iOS.
Users will be able to share ETA with friends or family, and even reply to text messages, control music and podcasts, search for places along the route, add a new stop and auto-punctuate their messages via the new Assistant features.
The Assistant will work with SMS, WhatsApp, Messenger, Hangouts, Viber, Telegram, Android Messages and more.
Google Assistant and check in on US flights
Google Assistant will help users check in to their flights, though this will start first with domestic flights with United Airlines in the US. It is not clear if this feature will roll out to markets beyond the US or not.
Users will be able to rely on the Assistant to save and retrieve boarding pass on Android or iOS. One will simply have to say “Hey Google, check in to my flight” to carry out this task.
The Assistant will also proactively notify users when the flight is ready for check-in. It will also support options for booking a room, though Google has select partners like Choice Hotels, AccorHotels, InterContinental Hotels Group, Priceline, Expedia, Mirai and Travelclick for this. Again this will likely remain limited to the US market.
Google Assistant powered devices at CES 2019
Lenovo has also announced a new Smart Clock and Smart Display. The clock has a 4-inch display and will show alarm suggestions based on daily routines. The Lenovo Smart Clock will be available in Spring 2019 for $79, according to the company.
Other Google Assistant compatible products at CES include, Whirlpool’s new KitchenAid Smart Display which gives users recipes from Yummly and simultaneously controls smart home devices. This is a 10-inch display, which is water resistant as well.
The Assistant is also coming to Sonos One and Sonos Beam speakers and it will also work with TVs from Samsung in the future. Other smart home products which will work with Assistant in the future, include products from Whirpool, GE’s smart microwave and August security products.
Google Assistant working with List apps, new Interpreter mode
The company is adding support for list-making apps like Google Keep, Any.do, Bring! and Todoist in the Assistant. Users will able to keep a track of their itinerary with notes and lists in the Assistant.
Google Assistant is getting a new interpreter mode as well, which will rolling out over the next few weeks on Google Home devices and Smart Displays. Users will be able to ask the Google Assistant with interpretations, and it will display real-time spoken translations. Smart Displays will have written translations as well.