Google has just unveiled its smart messaging app, Google Allo, featuring the first preview of their digital assistant in a late entry to attempts by various companies (see Apple’s Siri & Microsoft’s Cortana) to create a ore personal and intuitive way for people to interact with their devices.
According to the official Google blog, the assistant will allow you to have a conversation with Google, ask it questions, and let it help you get things done directly in your chats.
Over the coming months, they say, the Assistant will become integrated with more Google products.
Late But Not Behind
Although rival companies have had similar offerings for years already, (Siri was released by Apple in 2011 and Cortana by Microsoft in 2014), Google doesn’t feel that they’re in any way disadvantaged by their late entry into the digital assistant playing field.
According to Google executive Nick Fox, Google still has an advantage thanks to their experience with AI techniques like deep learning, which they’ve been using for years in their search engine technology.
The “Smart Reply” system, which uses thousands of computers connected in a “deep neural network” was built several years ago already, and is one of the factors that allows their assistant to adapt itself to the user. Other Google technology forms a critical part of the foundation of the smart assistant, and as the functionality is integrated with more products, the capabilities of the assistant will grow.
Very aware of increasing concerns over privacy in our ever more connected digital world, Google has included a system that it hopes will address these issues for users, including an incognito chat, which will prevent Google from accessing the data in it. (All other chats will be accessible by Google, although encrypted to prevent unauthorised 3rd party access.
In a typically understated Google style, they’re not promising to much from their assistant at the moment. There are limits to what they can do, even with their increasingly advanced AI technology, and to begin with at least, they’re limiting the ways in which their assistant will intrude into your daily device use.
Still, this is just the first step for them, and I think we can expect much more from it in the future.
Below you can see Google’s promo video for the smart messaging app, from the official announcement.