Everything you wanted to know about Google Assistant

The Google event today brought many new products and updates to Android, and one of those is Assistant.

Assistant

The new Google Assistant replaces Google Now as your phone companion. Whereas Google Now was just a more personal version of Google search, the Assistant is more in line with the likes of Siri and Cortana.

The Assistant brings Google closer to its goal of creating the Star Trek computer. It can be found among many products – in the watch, phone, home and car. Now that Google is combining hardware together with software, integrating Assistant into everything should be easier to do.

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So what can the Assistant do? You’re probably already familiar with the AI if you’ve been using Allo. You can ask it questions and tell it to do things, like you’ve already been doing with Google Now. On Pixel phones, just long press the home button and start talking. Or just say “OK Google” from any screen.

Set a reminder, make a note, play a playlist, or find out what the capital of Turkmenistan is. The AI learns and improves over time. It can even be integrated into third-party apps, so you can call an Uber or reserve a restaurant table with OpenTable, right within the Assistant.

Privacy

With the release of Allo, many people including myself were concerned about the privacy implications of using the service. The Assistant is able to access all of the data that Google already stores about you. This is to ensure you have a good experience and the service works correctly. How else would you be able to use it if the AI couldn’t access your location, web history, etc.?

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Users can choose which personal info you share with Assistant, and you can delete it at any time. Some of the information that is shared:

  • Your name
  • Google app version
  • Your Google Account info, including your search history. This info helps your Assistant provide more relevant results and suggestions.
  • Your device’s location, which lets your Assistant give you local info like weather and restaurant recommendations.
  • Info on your device, like contacts or storage. If you’re using the Google Assistant on a Pixel phone, your Assistant can also access content on your screen.

To get the latest updates on Assistant, you can sign up for the email list here.

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