Innovation

Google Assistant gets multitasking skills and support for 30 languages

A new feature called Routines will allow Assistant to perform multiple tasks with a single voice command.

Building a slide deck, pitch, or presentation? Here are the big takeaways:
  • Google Assistant Routines will allow users to program their Assistant to perform multiple tasks in a row following a single voice command.
  • Google Assistant will now support 30 languages, and features location-based reminders.

Google Assistant will now be able to perform a string of multiple actions with a single voice command, thanks to a new feature called Routines. While the capabilities were first unveiled in 2017, Google announced the availability of Routines in a Friday blog post.

Routines will be rolled out to Google Assistant users over the next few weeks, the post said. Using the feature, users can program Assistant to perform a certain set of tasks in a row when they give a specific command.

One such example would be a user setting the phrase "Hey Google, I'm home" to have the Assistant turn on the lights in the house, start a music playlist, and share reminders for what needs to get done. Professionals could use Routines to set a series of actions relative to a certain workflow, or SMBs could use it when opening up their brick-and-mortar business in the morning.

SEE: Quick glossary: Artificial intelligence (Tech Pro Research)

Routines could help Assistant become more useful for a broader group of users. The feature could also help the platform better compete with other app and API connection tools like IFTTT and Zapier.

Additionally, users will now be able to set location-based reminders through Assistant on a smart speaker. For example, if a user needs to pick up milk when they get to the grocery store, they can ask Assistant on Google Home to remind them to do so. And, when they arrive at the store, the Google Assistant on their phone will remind them.

Currently, the Assistant is available in eight languages. However, the post said, Google is expanding it to support 30 total languages, "reaching 95 percent of all eligible Android phones worldwide," the post said. "In the next few months, we'll bring the Assistant to Danish, Dutch, Hindi, Indonesian, Norwegian, Swedish and Thai on Android phones and iPhones, and we'll add more languages on more devices throughout the year."

Google Assistant will be multilingual later in 2018 as well, the post said. This way, users who speak more than one languages can speak fluently to Assistant and be understood.

"If you prefer to speak German at work, but French at home, your Assistant is right there with you," the post said. "Multilingual will first be available in English, French and German, with support for more languages coming over time."

To get the Assistant onto more devices and form factors, a new Assistant Mobile OEM program is being launched by Google as well. According to the post, manufacturers will be able to more deeply integrate Assistant with their products and take advantage of its language capabilities. Also, the Assistant Carrier program will help users be able to get information about the mobile plan directly from Assistant.

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Image: CNET

About Conner Forrest

Conner Forrest is a Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He covers enterprise technology and is interested in the convergence of tech and culture.

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