The Pixel 4 phone promises to respond to AI queries even faster than before, while a home Wi-Fi system is getting the AI features for the first time. The company also unveiled a new smart speaker and wireless earbuds, both invoking the AI-powered Google Assistant.
The Assistant, akin to Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa, is now available on more than 1 billion devices, including ones made by other manufacturers. With Google’s own products, though, the company can steer users to Assistant features even more.
That in turn, could encourage Google users to interact with other Google services such as search and maps more frequently, feeding into Google’s multi-billion dollar advertising business. More use of the Assistant also means that Google gets more data on user preferences and activities to build its advertising profiles.
Amazon and Google are both pushing their voice assistants onto more devices, though they have different ultimate goals, said Victoria Petrock, principle analyst at eMarketer. Amazon is getting a shopping assistant into every device it can, she said, while Google is collecting more information about user preferences.
“I think their end game is trying to collect all this data and target you with advertising,” she said.
The “helpful” features Assistant announces could make people even more likely to use it.
“The voice is a whole new way to capture people’s behaviors,” she said.
Assistant has faced scrutiny this year after reports revealed that Google contractors were transcribing some customer’s spoken communication with the AI to help improve the system. Google has since clarified its policies and said it will make it more explicit that people must give explicit permission, or opt in.
Still, many are skeptical of the proliferation of digital assistants in homes and pockets.
With the new Pixel, the Google Assistant will complete some tasks entirely on the device — so it doesn’t have to wait for answers from the cloud — allowing users to make commands and dictate text messages more quickly.
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October 19, 2019