I want to share my thoughts on voice assistants and tell you about Google Now, one of the leaders among them.
Every six months / year, so-called 'trends' appear in the mobile technology industry. Some companies set the rules in the market, while others follow them. The latter, unfortunately, are more. Often, developers in pursuit of copying create only a miserable parody, or deliberately try to use other people's ideas, passing them off as their own.
Borrowings are almost always obvious to users, and companies' attempts to hide them look ridiculous at all. But some, in addition to copying others and following trends, are also engaged in the development of their ideas. An obvious example is Apple, if you look at modern smartphone models, more than half of them are obviously and impudently copy iPhone. Smaller companies are simply afraid to come up with something of their own. After all, buyers “vote” with the ruble, and making a smartphone that will satisfy the majority of consumers is very difficult. Therefore, manufacturers resort to using ready-made patterns.
The latest trend is known to everyone – virtual reality. Previously, these were 'smart' watches, fitness bracelets, in general, wearable gadgets. Five years ago, during the formation of the system Android and the release of the smartphone iPhone 4S, together with the latter Apple, presented its own smart assistant – Siri. About a year later, Google hit back with the Google Now pocket assistant. I want to talk about him today.
Many people like Siri for the fact that communication with her is as close to a human as possible. She can joke, answer tricky questions, sing songs, and more. In fact, there is no practical benefit from this, only entertainment for half an hour. For me personally, talking to the phone is alien. It's not even that I'm afraid of the sidelong glances of others, it's just that today the process of communicating with the voice assistant is very slow, be it Siri or Google Now. Despite the advances in technology, the system does not always correctly detect speech, there may be external noises that also distort the perception of sound by a smartphone, and during dictation, you can make a reservation, and you have to cancel the command and say it again. This strongly discourages the use of voice commands.
It should be noted that today Google and Apple have improved the algorithms for the perception of Russian speech to an impressive level. However, this is far from perfect. If interaction with Siri in 95% of cases is voice communication, then Google Now has many other possibilities.
Google didn't just go with Apple and create their own voice assistant, they continued this idea. Google Now is a real pocket assistant that doesn't wait for a command from you to do something. It tracks your mail, searches, browser history, locations, purchases, and more. The assistant collects this information in order to show you some hint at the right time.
In the Google Start launcher, the Google Now assistant has a separate tab on the desktop. Owners of other devices can open the assistant by long pressing the 'Home' button, where the tips are located.
For example: the phone understands that almost every morning you use public transport and go to work to point B. Now Google Now will prompt you every morning that it's time to go outside so as not to be late for work, as well as display a card from Google Maps with the route, if it's a private car – you can also see the traffic congestion. The assistant will tell you the weather, the result of the match of your favorite team, the promotions of the companies you are interested in, and much more. Also Google Now selects news and articles that may be of interest to you.
But Google Now doesn't just help on routine workdays. It is also a great helper for vacation or travel. If the smartphone understands that you are outside your city, then it will show attractions, museums, restaurants and other points of interest on the map (Points of interest) that are recommended to visit in a new place, it can also be a selection of photos of beautiful places. To help the user adapt to the time zone change, the Google Now feed will display cards with the time of the home region and new city. The system will also show the rate of the local currency.
Many are familiar with the phrase 'Ok Google'. After these cherished words, Google Now will wait for your further instructions. Using your voice, you can ask Google Now to find some information for you on the Internet, make a call, get directions. send a message, create a reminder and more. But the capabilities of this assistant, it seems to me, are less than those of Siri.
However, this does not play a special role for me, since I am not an active user of voice commands. There is only one use case – with a headset. Many wired headphones have a multifunction button, if you hold it down, Google Now will start listening to you. Thus, you can conveniently call someone or turn on music.
Now on Tap
Along with update Android 6.0 Marshmallow introduced a new feature for Google Now – Now on Tap. By long pressing the Home button, the system scans all the information shown on the display. The program analyzes all text and images on the screen and searches for keywords. For example, if the system detects the 'Russian national football team', then it will offer to find information about it on Google, give a link to the VKontakte community, to the official application in the Play Market, a YouTube channel, and so on, depending on the information.
It seems to me that Now on Tap has a lot of hidden 'chips' that many people don't even know about. For example, I discovered one function for myself – the system can determine what kind of plant is shown on the display. It works well. As for me, the technology definitely requires improvement, at the moment its capabilities are far-fetched.
Judging by the updates, Google is actively working on the service. In the latest beta of the app, they've added a new quick command bar that lets you create a reminder, alarm, start a timer, or get directions to work or home with Now on Tap.
Perhaps this is all there is to say about the Google Now voice assistant. But while such programs are in their infancy – they are only assistants who work in accompaniment to the user. Google is making progress towards self-service, and they are doing well. Apple develops Siri as a pocket secretary who, without your knowledge, is afraid to do something – it's not bad or good, it's just different.
I invite you, dear readers, to share your thoughts on voice assistants in the comments.