Google (GOOG, GOOGL) debuted a broad range of devices on Tuesday including two new smartphones, a smart home hub, a new streaming device, a virtual reality headset and a new Wi-Fi router — phew, that was a mouthful. But those devices were just the vehicles through which the tech giant is rolling out its biggest product: a new Google.
Throughout Google’s keynote, Google CEO Sundar Pachai repeatedly touched on its new AI-powered Google Assistant. It’s in the new Pixel phones, it’s what powers Google Home and it helps Google Wi-Fi determine which frequency you should be on in your home to ensure you have the best connection.
The future is AI powered
Assistant, which made its debut in the Google Allo app, is designed to pull together all of Google’s disparate services ranging from Google Search, Google Photos, Gmail, Google Voice, Google Translate and a variety of others in a single, easy-to-use voice-based interface. It’s also the kind of interface that Google is banking on as the tech giant’s next generation.
During Tuesday’s keynote, Google CEO Sundar Pachai pointed to three major milestones in consumer technology: the PC revolution, the internet revolution and the mobile revolution. Google believes that next revolution is AI. According to Pachai, the future will be AI first, not mobile first, with AI everywhere in the context of a user’s daily life.
One of the big selling points of Google Assistant is that not only will it allow you to have a direct conversation with Google, but it will also learn your preferences over time, so it can more easily predict the questions you’re going to ask or tasks you need to handle.
And naturally, Google Assistant learning more about you means that Google will have even more exact information about you and your preferences to sell to advertisers. What, you didn’t think Google was doing this out of the kindness of its heart, did you?
A relationship with AI
Google’s AI push could also act as a new way to get consumers hooked on the company. As Gartner Research’s Brian Blau explains it, if Assistant is successful and is able to learn a person’s preferences, you could develop a kind of relationship with it that’s nearly as intimate as a close friendship.
Sure, you’re not going to ask Google Assistant to be the best man or bridesmaid in your wedding. But all of the questions you ask — ranging from your most inane questions about how to tell when the chicken from last week is rotten to serious issues like how to deal with the loss of a job — will create a piece of software that knows a heck of a lot about you.
Blau theorizes that Google Assistant could be a new means to lock in users. The thought goes that if Assistant knows so much about you, you may come to rely on it for handling everyday tasks or figuring out quick answers to your questions.
And while it’s easy enough to transfer contacts from Android to iOS, it’s not so easy, or possible, to transfer all of the knowledge Google Assistant will have about your preferences to Apple’s Siri.
I’m not saying that Google Assistant will be some kind of sentient AI that you become emotionally attached to it like in the movie “Her,” or some kind of digital shoulder to cry on. But if you become comfortable enough with the AI and it can provide you with services that you need without much fuss, you’ll certainly be less likely to trade it in for a competitor’s offering.
Google using its Google Assistant software as the next step for the company may sound farfetched, but if you’re looking for proof, look no further than what Pachai said during Tuesday’s keynote.
During his pitch about Google Assistant, the CEO said that Google Search gave everyone access to Google, and now Assistant will take that a step further by giving everyone their own personal Google.
More from Google’s keynote:
- Technology & Electronics
- Google Search
- Google Assistant