Google, at its annual I/O conference, showed how it is trying to turn its digital assistant software into a selling point for its smartphones. The next update to Google Assistant, coming later this year, will let users perform tasks that require multiple steps—like writing and sending emails, reserving rental cars, and buying movie tickets—using only voice commands. The features will initially be available only on Google’s new Pixel smartphones.
The next version of Google Assistant will also be up to ten times faster than the current one, according to the company. That’s because Google has shrunk the AI models that power Google Assistant from around 100 gigabytes to half a gigabyte, CEO Sundar Pichai said in a keynote address at the conference, allowing voice queries to be processed on smartphones instead of being sent back and forth to remote servers. Here, Google is following a similar path as Apple, which is also heavily focused on running AI on devices, as we reported in 2016.