Two of the biggest digital assistants are taking different pathways to find more users. Amazon recently made its intentions clear: It wants to play nice with its rivals. And so we're getting Microsoft Cortana integration with Alexa, and vice versa. That's on top of the thousands of third-party skills Amazon's AI already has. Google, on the other hand, is focussing on making its tech more self-reliant. Judging by its latest demonstration, its efforts are paying off. The company just unveiled a bunch of impressive features at a Google Developer Days keynote. They indicate that Google Assistant now possesses better contextual awareness. Not only will it be able to answer some of your vaguest questions, but it will also come in handy on your travels.
In a video of the event, the company shows off a new translator mode. All it takes is for you to ask: "Ok, Google, be my [insert language] translator," and the Assistant will repeat your words in the requested language. Google's been touting its advanced, AI-based translation skills since last year, but now we're seeing how they could be used in real-life situations.
In the same keynote video, Google's Behshad Behzadi also exhibits improvements in the system's ability to grasp context. It does this by learning from your past queries in order to personalize future search results. As an example, Behzadi asks for "pictures of Thomas." Without any extra info, the AI pulls up photos of Thomas the Tank Engine. Behzadi then asks for soccer club Bayern Munich's team roster, which includes Thomas Müller. He then repeats his "pictures of Thomas" prompt, and sure enough Thomas Müller is the first search result Assistant provides.
Another demo shows a query we're all likely familiar with. Like so many others before him, Behzadi turns to Google for help finding a movie he can't quite remember. He asks: "What is the name of the movie where Tom Cruise acts in it, and he plays pool, and while he plays pool he dances?" Assistant gets it in one. The Color of Money, it says before reading off more info about the film.
As the keynote illustrates, Assistant can now answer questions faster, is better at voice recognition, and is better at utilizing Google Search in appropriate scenarios. Some, but not all, of these features are already available, according to 9to5Google.
All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.