Google is rolling out a bevy of updates to its Home voice-activated speaker system and the Google Assistant platform that’s behind it. The news was announced today at the annual Google I/O developer conference.
First up, Google confirmed rumors and announced that Google Assistant is now available on iPhone. The service won’t be tightly integrated into Apple iOS, which means it’ll have limitations as compared to Siri. But it will still be able to complete a number of productivity-related tasks.
Also, Google Lens, Google’s new visual, AI-powered reverse-search feature, is coming to Assistant. “If you see a marquee for your favorite band, you can hold up your Assistant, tap the Lens icon and get information on the band, tickets and more,” Google wrote on its Keyword blog.
On the developer side, Google unveiled a software development kit for the Assistant that’s aimed at letting third-party hardware makers integrate the platform into their own products. Google said the SDK, along with the release of Google Assistant for the iPhone, would expand the platform’s reach beyond the current 100 million device mark.
Google also announced that Google Assistant will be made available in more languages on both Android and iOS. Later this summer we should see support for French, German, and Brazilian-Portuguese, and by the end of the year support for Italian, Spanish, and Korean.
As for Home, the tech giant is adding hands-free calling, Bluetooth support and visual responses, among other things. All of the updates to Google Home are by default also new features coming to the Google Assistant and the devices it’s compatible with.
With the calling feature, which comes less than a week after Amazon rolled out the same functionality on its latest Echo device, users can call any landline or mobile number in the US or Canada for free.
There’s also proactive notifications coming to Google Home, which will provide users with alerts and notifications for things like traffic alerts and scheduled calendar events. “Since it’s the same Google Assistant across devices, you’ll be able to get a reminder at home or on the go,” Google said. There’s also a new visual responses feature that will let Google Home send image-based responses from Google Assistant to TVs with Chromecast.