Google is rolling out the Google Assistant to more devices. The announcement coincides with the Mobile World Congress event in Barcelona, Spain.
Currently available on the Pixel smartphone, Android Wear, Google Home and its messaging app Allo, it will soon be available on Android 6.0 and 7.0 devices.
Google Assistant is essentially an AI-powered successor to voice search. Google Assistant aspires to be conversational and go beyond simple voice query input and text-to-speech playback. However most users won’t see a dramatic difference between Google Assistant and voice search today.
As third party services and transactions (“actions“) are increasingly integrated, Google Assistant experiences could become very different vs conventional search. A recent survey by Stone Temple Consulting found that the majority of users (60 percent) wanted more “direct answers” without having to visit another website. In other words, “answers not links.”
This desire/request and Google’s effort to fulfill it will have significant implications for SEO and third party exposure in search results.
Google says the rollout will start this week to the US market, followed by UK, Canada, Australia and Germany. More countries and languages will be added “in the coming year.”
Virtual assistants are starting to become a critical battleground for Google, Apple, Microsoft and Amazon. We’re likely to see accelerating development of these services as a differentiator for devices that are increasingly hard to differentiate on the basis of hardware alone.