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Google Endows Assistant with More App Smarts

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Nov 15, 2017, 3:09 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   @zeman_e

Google today announced a comprehensive update to the Google Assistant. Most of the changes are meant for developers, but everyone will benefit from Assistant's improved ability to interact with third-party applications. To start, Assistant will help people find apps in a more seamless and natural way. For example, updates to the app directory will surface trending sections that change over time. New subcategories are on deck, as well, which will break down directories to provide more fine-tuned results. Google says it is able to do this by using the description developers provide for their apps and keyboard match that text with spoken voice queries made by end users. Finding apps will be aided by implicit discovery, as well, or the ability to connect with an app using contextual queries, such as "fix my bike." Developers will have access to badges that call out family-friendly apps, as well as expanded international support thanks to the addition of Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese. Other changes target how apps use Assistant to interact directly with people, such as transferring phone calls from the Google Home to a smartphone. Apps will have new powers for handling the end of conversations, such as providing polite or informative farewells, cancelling requests, and finding the right time to suggest account linking. Last, Google wants to ensure developers and their Assistant-powered apps are engaging with users. Moving forward, apps will be able to provide daily updates, gentle suggestions, and push notifications (thanks to a new API.) For example, Google says developers will be able to send alerts via Assistant about upcoming sales or discounts to those who've expressed interest. Google is encouraging developers to put these new tools to use within their Assistant-connected apps. Google hopes the end result will be more useful and informative apps for end users that are discovered and accessed via Google Assistant.


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