Search “assistants”

Google had much to say about the new “Google assistant” at its annual developers’ conference, Google I/O. It has AI capability and will be built into apps. Danny SUllivan explained in Meet Google assistant: A new search platform, rather than a gadget or an app (May 18)

“So what is Google assistant, in the end? Google assistant combines two things: Google’s expertise in extracting information from content across the web and from partners plus its machine learning smarts to understand what people are asking.”

Broadly, these are called digital assistants. Others are Siri from Apple, Cortana – Microsoft, Echo in ALexa – Amazon. Paul Hunter at State of Digital asked Will Digital Assistants Replace Search? No – because the assistants are most useful for directions, shopping – the kinds of questions spoken to a smartphone – not deeper research into a topic or need. Hunter closes with “Voice search and digital assistants are definitely going to become a big factor in digital, but will it be the end of search? I doubt it.”

Sundar Pichai, Google’s CEO, sees Google’s next stage to be in the realms of artificial intelligence and virtual reality.

Google’s CEO sums up his AI vision: “Hi. How can I help?” CNet (May 17)

Products that reflect this and were shown at the I/O conference:

… a messaging app (which suggests comparisons to Facebook Messenger), a voice-activated speaker and smart home control hub (sort of like Amazon’s Echo), a video chat app (think Apple’s Facetime) and a new hardware and software system for VR built around a smartphone (shades of Samsung Gear VR).

The assistant will be “baked in” to new products. Google Home is a smart home speaker – talk to it anytime and use it to manage the house. Allo is a messaging app that will compete with Facebook Messenger, Snapchat and Kik.

Google Translate News

There have been at least two important postings about Google Translate in the Official Blog.

Ten years of Google Translate (April 28) – yes Translate has been with us for 10 years. It now handles 103 languages.

One of the bigger developments is Word Lens – using this app on your mobile phone for “reading menus, street signs and more” – works for 28 languages.

Translate where you need it: in any app, offline, and wherever you see Chinese (May 11) – announces Tap to Translate on Android – copy the text and get the translation.

Posting also announces offline mode for iOS – download the language package and be able to translate when offline.

New Search Experiences

Smartphones have changed the search experience. Adam Dorfman in Search Engine Land shows that As search changes, Google changes.

“But, seemingly overnight, everything changed. Now, searching means utilizing a wide range of interfaces, including GPS devices, wearables, smart objects such as Amazon Echo and operating systems such as iOS and Android. Oh, and we’re not just lounging on our sofas at home when we search. We’re searching on the go.”

While mobile is where the action is today, the author identifies some areas where Google.com still excels.

Mobile Apps and Voice

Panelists at SMX East discussed the future of search. In reading about the three themes, keep in mind that future is never longer than a year. They are mobile apps and voice – these affect everyone, and attributio – which is a matter of attributing sale of a product to a source or agent.

Looking Ahead: The New Search Landscape, Casie Gilette, Search Engine Land (Oct 1)

Mobile apps, attribution and voice search were the main themes, but of course, the topic of where Yahoo and Bing fit in was brought up. The biggest takeaway was the split of Yahoo/Bing (i.e., Gemini) and how that may end up hurting each company in the long run.

Using a digital assistant

Basic premise to a “digital assistant” is that it must know a lot about you. Danny Sullivan examines the three leaders from Google, Microsoft, and Apple in How Google Now, Siri & Cortana Predict What You Want [Search Engine Land Sept 18]

Google, Apple and Microsoft all have agents that want to be your personal assistant. But how well Google Now, Apple’s Siri and Microsoft’s Cortana can predict your needs depends on how much you want to share, how wedded to particular platforms you want to be and, in some cases, how much you actively want to help make those predictions happen.

Google voice search recordings

Google stores your voice searches on its servers – claims this helps Google’s work in voice recognition. If you’d like to see what has been saved so far, delete any of your voice searches, or stop the recording entirely, watch this how-to video from CNet on how to change the settings in your Google account – Stop Google from tracking your voice: How To Video

 

 

Search turns mobile

The smartphone is changing people’s search practices and Google, in the face of a multitude of apps, is fighting to stay King of Search. Leading the charge is Amit Singhal, Google’s search chief.

Reinventing Google for a Mobile World, Conor Dougherty, New York Times (July 9)

“My job is not to just look at the trend today. My job is to look at what’s beyond the horizon,” Mr. Singhal said in the interview. “And beyond the horizon, there is so much more people can do on their devices that is not possible today.”