Many people make New Year resolutions and companies like Google are no exception. The company recently announced at CES several changes that Google Assistant users can expect in 2020. Google plans to make Google Assistant available on more devices and provide greater control to users, offer more features for families, supply greater privacy controls, and incorporate better speech technology.
Google reported that a greater variety of devices this year will be compatible with Google Assistant. These include August Smart Locks, Telus Wi-Fi Hub routers, GE Appliances Ultrafresh Front Load Washer, and many more. It will overall be easier to connect these devices with your Assistant. Users will also be able to ask Google Assistant to schedule when a compatible devices starts or stops. This feature is referred to as “Scheduled Actions” and will be available later this year.
Google Assistant will be incorporated into many upcoming smart displays, speakers, headphones as well. In particular, Google has updated Android TV so that it is easier for manufacturers to include “far-field mics” in their products. Several new televisions, including Samsung’s upcoming voice-enabled Smart TVs, will feature Google Assistant.
They also plan to include more features to help keep families organized. Users will soon be able to create “household notes” without needing to sign in. These notes can be accessed by anyone in the household. Users will also be able to make a “speed dial” list with their most important contacts. Users will then be able to ask Google Assistant to call that specific person or tap on that person’s name in the contact list.
Many companies this year were found to be in violation of their privacy policies. Amazon, Microsoft, Apple, and Google all admitted to using third-party contractors to “grade” recordings. It is therefore no surprise that Google seems to be more committed to privacy and transparency. They insist that they do not keep recordings by default. This year users will also now be able to say “Hey Google, that wasn’t for you” if they accidentally activate their Assistant. Users will also be able to ask, “Hey Google, are you saving my audio data?” to double-check and change their privacy controls.
It is particularly encouraging to see that Google is incorporating newer speech technology. Users can say “Hey Google, read it” or “Hey Google, read this page” to have Google read articles, short stories, and blogs aloud in 42 different languages. Their Interpreter Mode will provide real-time translations and allow people who do not speak the same language to have a conversation. This feature could be great for businesses, travel, or to simply better communicate with those who speak a language you do not know.
Many of these new features seem like they will be very helpful. We are particularly interested to see how Google continues to update their privacy features. Let's hope 2020 will be a better year than 2019 for privacy.