You've probably asked Google Now, Siri, or Cortana to tell you a joke or to direct you to a destination, but this video takes the idea of conferring with voice assistants to another level - not necessarily a higher level, mind you, but at the very least, a funnier one.
Today's announcements by Google have certainly given us a lot to look at in terms of new hardware and features – and possibly a case of sticker shock. But while the show was mostly dominated by new gadgets and demos of Google assistant, there was a really important addition for developers (and ultimately users) at the tail end of the event. Google intends to turn assistant into a major ecosystem for apps and services by opening up the platform to developers.
The platform is called "Actions on Google" and it will allow developers to deliver custom experiences through Google assistant. Google assistant can already take advantage of many existing capabilities like app indexing, deep linking, and even the Voice Interaction API to provide helpful answers and services.
We're not sure when this behavior changed in WhatsApp — I was able to track it down as far back as version 2.12.134 but it might have been there before — but it's worth pointing out nonetheless, if only for its boost in convenience. It used to be that whenever you wanted to look for specific words in your WhatsApp chats, you first had to select the conversation where that word occurred and then perform the search. That was useful, but only to a limited extent, because if you were looking for that restaurant recommendation from a few months ago, you might have forgotten which friend mentioned it to you.
Besides fixing Google Experience Launcher on tablets and adding some new cards, the new Google Search update has another trick up its sleeve - it will now hold a conversation with you to perform certain functions, and talks to you in a new way.
Basically, you can now start with very general voice commands like "send a message." The microphone will then turn into a white speaker on a blue circle, indicating that Search is responding to you. It will ask "Who do you want to send the message to?" Then it's your turn. Say a name, and Search will ask what the message should say.
Vocre, a voice and text translator that won audience choice in TechCrunch's Disrupt, came to Android today, bringing with it a promising challenger to Google's own Translate app and a "tabletop UI" meant specifically for extended conversations with those on either side of the language barrier.
As shown in the video above, Vocre's interface is exceedingly simple. Users need only select languages and genders, then record their message, check for accuracy, and let the app do the rest. Vocre, for those curious, uses Nuance services to translate your words as a text string, returning results (with pretty reliable accuracy) in the desired language.
CouchSurfing, if you haven't heard, is a service designed to allow "a global community of travelers, adventure seekers, and lifelong learners" to connect with one another so that they can arrange various get-togethers, from meals to places to spend the night. Recently, the developers of the service decided to take it to the next level with an official Android app.
As you can see, the app has a rather pretty UI. Moreover, CouchSurfing promises that behind the visual bells and whistles are a good number of features:
Search for people to connect with
Respond to and send CouchRequests
Have conversations with upcoming hosts and surfers
Easily view people’s profiles
If you're an "adventure seeker" or traveler interested in the service, just hit up the download info below - right after you watch CouchSurfing's cultural documentary intro video.
Facebook Messenger, an app the social giant says provides "a faster way to message," got a significant update today, bringing it up to version 1.8. The update, besides promising to speed up app loading, navigating (by way of some small UI tweaks), and message sending, contains several new features that are worth mentioning.
Among these new features is the ability to switch between conversations using handy (dismissible) in-app notification bars which appear any time a friend sends you a message in another conversation. Facebook has also added the option to bring friends of friends into your existing conversation, using the same interface you'd use to add any of your friends to the message.