At MWC 2019, Google is announcing a major expansion for Google Assistant. The company is announcing new partnerships and features that will expand the Assistant’s reach on mobile devices, starting with Android phones.
Google is introducing a new dedicated Assistant button on a bunch of phones from its partners, making it much easier to access the company’s virtual assistant. Engadget reports that Google is expecting over 100 million phones to ship with the new Assistant button, with phones from LG, Nokia, Xiaomi, TCL, and Vivo coming with the new button. One tapping the new button will directly open Assistant, and double-tapping the new button will have Assistant automatically listen to you for commands. It’s not clear if Google or either of these phone makers will allow for any kind of remapping abilities over the key so you can have it perform a different task.
Google is also integrating Assistant into Android Messages. With Allo set to die soon, the company is bringing Assistant into Android Messages to help users be more productive. Assistant in Messages will first start off by displaying smart suggestions within conversations, much like smart replies. Assistant uses on-device machine learning capabilities to surface these suggestions, and tapping on them will give you more information from within Android Messages.
Android phones aren’t the only devices Assistant is expanding on. In fact, Google is introducing a new Voice Typing feature on KaiOS, a system that powers feature phones. The new Voice Typing feature will allow users to press and hold a dedicated Assistant button to start using their voice for input in any text field within KaiOS.
On the language front, Google says Google Assistant users in India can now talk in 7 more Indic languages — including Marathi, Bengali, Tamil, Telugu, Gujarati, Kannada, Malayalam and Urdu. The company is also bringing multilingual support for more languages, including Korean, Hindi, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish and Dutch, which means you can now switch back and forth between these languages on the fly when talking to Assistant.
Assistant on Google Maps is also coming to more languages in the coming weeks.
Google’s push on Android and feature phones is certainly very impressive. The dedicated Assistant button is particularly quite surprising, especially considering the fact that it could put Assistant just a tap away on more than 100 million phones.