Google’s I/O conference is going on right now, and the very first thing that CEO Sundar Pichai announced was the Google Assistant. Rather than being entirely new, it’s an evolution of the voice-search interface, modeled on Star Trek‘s omniscient computer, which the company has been working on for years. But it’s also an obvious rival to Amazon’s Alexa service.
Pichai showed it off with a conversation involving a movie search. The example started with “What’s playing tonight?” The Assistant suggested movies. It then understood the statement “I want to bring the kids this time,” listing family-friendly movies and asking if the user would like to buy tickets to one of them. And then it understood “Sure, let’s do Jungle Book.”
Google Assistant is arriving later this year, will be open to third-party services, and will be a key feature of Google Home, the upcoming Amazon Echo-like smart speaker.