Google Assistant, the intelligent successor to Google Now, is a mobile virtual assistant that performs basic scheduling and research tasks. Where Google Now, an advanced Google search tool, learned from its user’s searches to provide more relevant information, Google Assistant does the same and also learns its user’s voice and preferences and responds accordingly. Google Assistant can have basic conversations with users as it becomes more accustomed to their habits and questions.
Google Assistant offers multiple voice options depending on user preference and integrates with other smart devices, such as home speakers and lighting systems. Saying “Hey, Google” triggers the assistant, who then performs the following task. The assistant can arrange phone calls, texts, and emails. Google Assistant also performs general navigation, finds requested locations, and gives specific directions.
The Google Assistant learns its user’s habits and voice and adjusts conversation as it adapts. One of Google’s recent goals is ambient computing, which the assistant furthers: it integrates with other devices, including home or office, and fades into the background of everyday life. Ambient computing eventually becomes natural, almost forgotten, and that’s what Google wants to do. The assistant provides a path for computing and artificial intelligence to help users with ordinary tasks until they become entirely commonplace.
Google Assistant drew criticism in 2019 when some of its research tactics compromised users’ privacy. Google hires contractors to study assistant conversations to better improve the assistant’s language response, as their terms and conditions explain. Privacy issues surfaced when some of those transcripts leaked, including ones that contained private information like personal addresses. This security breach raised questions about Google’s suitability as a provider of artificial intelligence that will discover much about its users: is that information always secure, and is it worth it to give Google that much data – even when its helpful Assistant seems to perform the most mundane tasks?