Artificial Intelligence Personal Virtual Assistants
This is part four in our series Smartphone AI: In our last article on Smartphone Artificial Intelligence called “Smartphone AI-Apple’s Siri” we discussed Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning. We are interested in what Apple, Samsung, and Google are planning to do going forward with (AI) Artificial intelligence in their Smartphones and Apps and how Google ties in with their virtual assistant.
Voice Assistants in Use
Google Assitant is available in more than 30 languages across 80 countries.
In February of this year, U.K.-based Juniper Research estimates that nearly 8 billion digital voice assistants to be in use by 2023.
Smartphones will have the largest part of the installed base because of the device’s presence just about everywhere in the world.
The most popular voice assistants in use today are cross-platform, like a smartphone and Google Home with the connection to a media device of some sort (eg TV, sound systems, smartphones, etc).
When we think about and study Google and their Google Assitant, no one has a better opportunity in History than they to affect global Artificial Intelligence just by their access to data alone. As you will see and read with Google Open Source, Google Deepmind and other programs like Google Assistant Developer Community Program that creates Actions.
There are over 1,000,000 actions on Google Assitant
“With Actions on Google, you can easily reach and engage with users across Google. From quick commands to full conversations, Actions help you connect your content and services to users with the Google Assistant.”
So with this article let us start with how does Google Assistant works with your iPhone?
First of all, who cares? If you are an Apple, aficionado and you already have Siri, well who cares. Well, apparently enough people at Apple and Google to make this all work and the rest of us using them.
Google Assitant on Our iPhone
As you will also read, we are utilizing Google Assitant on our iPhones with mixed results because of constraints we are guessing imposed by Apple. Google Assistant on your iPhone is downloaded as an App from the Google Store or Apple App Store.
Siri Shortcut to use Google Assistant
To start with, Siri utilizes your voice for the on/off switch if you set it up through the new Google Assistant with Siri Shortcuts.
We set up a Siri Shortcut to use Google Assistant. We used a couple of methods but one that is also simple and easy is this method below:
On your iPhone iOS 12.4.1 Version or newer, Open Settings > Siri & Search > All Shortcuts. This displays all Siri shortcuts available from all of your installed apps. Tap Hey Google, then tap the Hey Google+ Red Dot Phrase button, and then say Hey Google, Ok Google or whatever you want to call it, and then tap done.
What can Google Assistant do that nothing else can yet?
Google Assistant is Google’s Voice Assistant that offers voice and text commanded searching and device control. It is designed to give you conversational interactions and operates on multiple mobile and Google Home devices and engages in two-way audio conversation with the user.
It is (AI) Artificial Intelligence connected to the world’s largest Search Engine, Google that is greater than all of the world’s other search engines combined.
Please see our other articles “Smartphone AI: Apple’s Siri” and “Smartphone AI: Artificial Intelligence and Popular Culture.”
1 Billion Devices
Google allows third-party developers to build apps for Google Assistant. There are now more than 30,000 connected devices that work with Google Assistant across 3,500 brands.
Google says Google Assistant is on a billion devices as of early 2019.
Google Assistant is also utilizing breakthroughs from Google’s Deepmind. Google Deepmind is a subsidiary of Google and makes use of General Purpose Self-Learning AI utilizing neural networks with deep reinforcement machine learning algorithms.
Because Google Deepmind is a subsidiary of Google, it is the goal of Google and Google Deepmind to attain Artificial General Intelligence (AGI).
“We aim to build advanced AI – sometimes known as Artificial General Intelligence (AGI) – to expand our knowledge and find new answers. By solving this one thing, we believe we could help people solve thousands of problems.”
In October 2017, Google announced a 1,000-fold performance improvement along with better voice quality with WaveNet.
“Wavenet is a new deep neural network for generating raw audio waveforms that are capable of producing better and more realistic-sounding speech than existing techniques.” WaveNet is used to generate Google Assistant voices.
WaveNet is being used to generate the Google Assistant voices for U.S. English and Japanese across all platforms.
Adaptive Battery and Adaptive Brightness
In May 2018, Deepmind announced it was working with Android to incorporate machine learning into Adaptive Battery and Adaptive Brightness with Pie the Android 9.0 release.
Adaptive Battery is a smart battery management system that uses machine learning deep convolutional neural net to predict which apps you will need next, providing a more reliable battery experience on your smartphone.
Adaptive Brightness is a personalized experience for your smartphone screen brightness. This feature allows the device to learn how bright the user likes their screen to be using algorithms that learn brightness preferences in different surroundings based on their previous preferences.
In May 2018, Google also revealed Duplex, an extension of the Google Assistant that allows it to carry out natural conversations by mimicking the human voice.
November 2019 was the initial release to the public and you can ask Google Assistant to make phone calls on your behalf, for tasks like booking an appointment or checking business hours. The Assistant will confirm any necessary details with the source and call the business to fulfill the request.
Google plans to expand Duplex to Duplex on the Web and it will help people fill out forms on the web automatically.
Google Assistant is available on:
- Alarm Systems
- Doorbell Alarms
- Laptops & Tablets
- Smart Displays
- Smoke Alarms
IoT – Internet of Things
Depending on what device or service it is on within the (IoT) Internet of things the list below shows it can control your devices and your smart home.
- Android 6.0+ watches
- Android 6.0+ TVs
- Google Home Devices
- Android 5.0+ Phones
- iOS 10.0+ Devices
- Smart Displays
- Android 6.0+ tablets
Google Assistant Platforms
Google Assistant can set alarms, launch your camera to take photos and selfies, launch certain apps on command, post to social networks like Twitter or Facebook, call a ride-hailing app like a Taxi, Uber or Lyft.
According to the Google Assitant Website on your Smartphone or Google Home, it can:
- Manage tasks – Send a text, set reminders, turn on battery saver and instantly look up emails.
- Plan your day – Check your flight status, make a dinner reservation, check when your movie starts, and find a coffee shop along your route.
- Enjoy entertainment – Control music on YouTube Music. You can also pick up where you left off on your favorite podcasts with your Assistant on Google Home.
- Make memories – Your Assistant makes it incredibly simple to find your photos – and to take them as well.
- Get answers – Get real-time answers including the latest on weather, traffic, finance, or sports. Quickly find translations while you are traveling.
- Control your home – Use your phone to control your smart home devices. Adjust the temperature, lighting, and more, even when you are not home.
Apps on iPhone
Opening Apps on the iPhone takes a little bit of work to figure out how to open them with Google Assistant. Initially, you have to sometimes connect the app through Google
Google Assistant Settings
When you go into Manage Your Google Account tabs, it lists:
You – Assitant – Services – Devices – Home
In the iPhone Google Assistant app tab, it lists:
- Lets you set what language you want to speak
- Assistant Voice
- Lets you pick from 11 voice types and accents
- Continued Conversation
- This is an optional setting that allows your device’s microphone to reopen after every response and enable you to have a more natural back-and-forth conversation with the Google Assistant. Only available in English at this time.
- Voice Match
- You can teach the Google Assistant to recognize your voice with Voice Match. Then you can link your voice to a speaker, Smart Display, or Smart Clock so you can use voice commands to get personal results. You can link up to six people’s voices with Voice Match to a single speaker, Smart Display, or Smart Clock.
- Home Control
- You can control smart home devices including lights, switches, outlets, and thermostats using your Google Assistant.
- You settings choices to go into each of the following and set further settings. You have the settings choices of Good Morning, Bedtime, Leaving Home, Commuting to Work, and Commuting Home.
- Email Updates
- Lets you utilize a Google Assitant Updater through Emails with the latest News and Features related to your Assistant.
Google Assistant Routines
“Have your assistant do multiple things with just one command. Use ready-made routines you adjust to fit your day and create custom ones from scratch.”
These listings allow you to for instance set your Good Morning Routine. So if you go into Routines
Then once in Routines go into “Good Morning.”
This allows you to checkboxes and set up “Take the phone off of silent” which is a great feature, unfortunately, it does not work on the iPhone.
It has settings for Google Home-like Adjust lights, plugs, and more.
Add Actions in Routines
Add a widget
There is a cool section called “Routines” in your Google settings under Assistant like Good Morning.
This will play Music, News, Radio, Podcasts, Audiobooks, or Nothing at the end of your Good Morning routine.
Google Assistant is available on almost every Android phone with Android 6.0 and above. It is also available on the iPhone now. One of the only problems with Google Assistant is there is no desktop version available. However, thanks to Google Assistant SDK which allows running Google Assistant on any platform such as Windows, MAC, and Linux as well.
There are some constraints that limit what Google Assistant can do on the iPhone iOS. Through trial and error, we are seeing some of the limitations and this may just be temporary or for good.
On an iPhone, it cannot:
When you try to set up some of your Routines on an iPhone in Google Assitant, for instance, “Take your phone off Silent” you get the error message below “This action only works when you use this Routine on an Android phone” and it will not let you save it that way.
Will not take the phone off silent
When we were experimenting with setting up the Bedtime Routine and we clicked the button “Put phone on silent,” then save, go out, and go through the Bedtime Routine with Google Assistant.
We then got a verbal and picture error message from Google Assitant saying, “I’m sorry, but I can’t put your phone on silent on IOS devices.”
I’m sorry but I can’t set an alarm on IOS devices
Google Assitant Features Existing or in the Future
A lot of what filters down and ends up on the Google Assistant iPhone App starts on the Google Pixel Smartphones, Smart Displays, or Google Home Products running through and experimenting with the Google Assistant App.
The constantly changing and updating list below is some of those existing or coming soon features.
With Continued Conversation, you can have a conversation with Google Assitant without saying “Hey Google” before each question.
According to Google Assistant’s setting for Continued Conversation – Your device’s microphone will reopen after every response to listen for follow up questions. These will appear in My Activity as usual. Audio that your Google Assistant doesn’t respond to will be deleted from your Google account.
Note: Continued Conversation is only available in the US. Your Assistant language must be set to English (United States). Continued Conversation may not be available outside of the US even if the language is set to English (United States). Please use Android Google Search App (AGSA) 8.7 or higher to access Continued Conversation within Assistant Settings on an Android device.
Google also has Voice Match and recognizes voice profiles for different people, so it knows who is talking to it and can tailor the responses accordingly.
Personal References lets you ask about people in your contacts that you identify like your spouse, children, or parents. You can ask questions like “What is the weather like at Dad’s house today?” This is because their address is saved to their entry in the Contacts app and you have identified your parent as Dad.
You can identify someone in the “Your People” section under “You” in your Google Settings. If you go into the “Important contacts” and go to the bottom there are two buttons called “Remember a family member” and “Remember a birthday.”
When you press the “Remember a family member” button, Google assistant voice takes over and asks says, “Sure, just say something like ‘My mom’s name is Carol’ and I’ll remember it.”
Remember a Family Member
This will lead to more advanced questions like “Remind me to buy a present two weeks before Mom’s birthday.”
As Google Assistant gets to know you and understands your background, it will start to respond to that knowledge. This is important as it gives the Algorithm a lot more information authority and uses it in its command lines.
According to 9to5Google’s Managing Editor, a reliable source familiar with the Google Assistant Company plans. Google is working on a new phone-based feature that will let you tap a button to tell the Assistant to take over a call when you are placed on hold. The assistant would then alert you as soon as a human return to the line.
You can see who is calling and why before you answer a call using Call Screen. Your phone uses Google Assistant to screen calls, not Wi-Fi, or mobile data. Transcripts of screened calls will be saved on your phone. All screened calls will save a transcript. You can screen calls in English, in the United States and Canada.
You can find info and get things done with your Google Assistant while you drive. Ask it questions and tell it to do things in Google Maps so you can focus on the road.
In addition to the normal questions, information, and help with everyday tasks you ask Google Assistant, you can also ask about travel, nearby places, directions, and navigation. This feature is not available in all languages and countries/regions.
Driving Mode currently works with Android Auto but in the future, Google has announced Google Assistant Driving Mode by itself and with self-driving cars, we are sure this responsibility will change tremendously. To get the most from driving mode, set it for Do Not Disturb in any car or for Android Auto in a car without Android Auto built-in. If your car has Android Auto built-in, use your car’s display instead of driving mode.
Remote Vehicle Controls
“Use the Assistant to control your car remotely, so you can adjust your car’s temperature before you leave the house, check your fuel level, or make sure your doors are locked. Now the Assistant can do these things with just one or two commands—for example, “Hey Google, turn on the car A/C to 70 degrees.” You can also incorporate these vehicle controls into your morning routine to kickstart your commute.
You can ask the Google Assistant to translate your conversation with someone who does not speak your language.
Get help having conversations in dozens of languages. Just say “Hey Google, be my [French] interpreter” to start interpreter mode and get real-time spoken and written translation on select devices to aid the conversation across nearly 30 languages.
The languages you can use to start using interpreter mode depend on your device. After you have started interpreter mode, you can ask the Google Assistant to translate between more languages.
Speech On-Device at Nearly Zero Latency
“Building upon advancements in recurrent neural networks, we developed completely new speech recognition and language understanding models, bringing 100GB of models in the cloud down to less than half a gigabyte. With these new models, the AI that powers the Assistant can now run locally on your phone. This breakthrough enabled us to create a next-generation Assistant that processes speech on-device at nearly zero latency, with transcription that happens in real-time, even when you have no network connection.”
“Google Assistant’s Ambient Mode is a new visual overview that makes it easier to see notifications and reminders, start a playlist, and control smart home devices on the lock screen of your device. When you’re done, your screen will turn into a personal digital photo frame linked to your Google Photos account to add another personal touch.”
The Digital Assistants of Tomorrow
The Juniper Research release of the “The Digital Assistants of Tomorrow Whitepaper” is quoted as saying “In B2B deployments, voice assistants are finding their biggest home in the organizational space, with their largest degree of usage being intelligently sorting and booking meetings and appointments. These can range from conference call scheduling to office cleaning, depending on how the assistant is deployed within a given company.”
“The use of voice assistant hardware as a conference calling tool is also of particular interest to businesses. Voice assistants that integrate with a calendar (most notably Google Assistant and Microsoft’s Cortana) can access any conference details held in the calendar and connect a meeting with a simple verbal command. In addition to this, several companies are providing facilities to automatically record calls and email recordings, transcripts or both to participants.”
Who Does the Work at Google?
Google is based in Mountain View, CA, with more than 60 offices worldwide, Google employs around 102,000 people.
Headquarters Mountain View, CA
Size 10000+ employees
Type Company – Public (GOOG)
Revenue $10+ billion (USD) per year
Competitors Microsoft, Apple, Facebook
Google Employment Statement
“Google is not a conventional company, and we don’t intend to become one. True, we share attributes with the world’s most successful organizations – a focus on innovation and smart business practices comes to mind – but even as we continue to grow, we are committed to retaining a small-company feel. At Google, we know that every employee has something important to say and that every employee is integral to our success. We provide individually-tailored compensation packages that can be comprised of a competitive salary, bonus, and equity components, along with the opportunity to earn further financial bonuses and rewards.
Googlers thrive in small, focused teams and high-energy environments, believe in the ability of technology to change the world and are as passionate about their lives as they are about their work. For more information, visit careers.google.com.
Mission: Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”
As of March 2019 Google workes with roughly 121,000 temporary workers and contractors around the world, compared with 102,000 full-time employees, according to an internal document obtained by The New York Times.
Google Assistant is truly remarkable in so many areas and at this point in history let alone going forward with the full support of the behemoth that Google is. As we get to study and research subjects like this it feels like Humanity has a better chance of overcoming the immense crisis in front of it.
As we said in our last article, Artificial Intelligence Virtual Assitant Technology is wonderful and amazing and we are very excited about this new untapped tool. We are hoping for more and more and utilities that will help us day to day in the real world productivity arena, business sector, or things that just make life simpler.