It hasn't been 2 months since Google Assistant dominated half the conversation at CES (with Alexa taking the other half) and now it's back again with more announcements and new things for MWC. After Google's teaser that new Android One and Go phones are coming at MWC next week, now we have a new announcement from the Google Assistant team and it's a big one. Some would call it a worldwide one.
First is the news that Google Assistant will be spreading to more languages and locales. From the current 8 languages, it will reach 30 by the end of the year and thus cover 95% of all eligible Android phones worldwide. We already knew this was happening, but the official news has more details. First up will be Danish, Dutch, Hindi (which is sort of working already), Indonesian, Norwegian, Swedish, and Thai, which will roll out in the "next few months," but others (Arabic is likely in that category) are slated for later in the year.
But that's not all on the language front. Assistant will also understand several languages at once later in the year, so if you live in a multilingual home like I do, you can easily switch between multiple languages and Assistant will understand. The first to be supported for on-the-fly switching are English, French, and German. It's not clear from the phrasing, but I do hope this comes to Google Home too and not just Assistant on the phone.
Next up is the expansion of Assistant's capabilities on your device by allowing it to perform actions on the phone and inside your apps. This reminds me of Bixby and I hope it's well executed because it would be great to control a few functionalities of my phone with my voice when my hands are otherwise occupied. The first three OEMs working on this are Sony, Xiaomi, and LG (which has already announced its new Voice AI for the 2018 LG V30). Google is also teaming up with carriers to let them offer you answers through Assistant about your plan, get customer support, and add new services. Sprint, Koodo, Telus, and Vodafone will be some of the first to implement this.
And finally, there are two new but long overdue functions coming to Assistant: routines and location-based reminders. The latter is straightforward and has been working on your phone for a while but will be available "in the coming weeks" from your Google Home and other Assistant speakers. The former has been on our radar for months through Cody's teardowns and it was even officially announced in October, but now we know it'll be active "in the coming weeks in the US." Only 6 routines will be available to start and you should be able to customize them to do what you want in the morning, for your commutes, or at home at night.
Whew, that's a lot and I'm really excited for everything that's coming to Assistant this year. If you own a Google Home or are still confused about everything you can do with it, I wrote a lengthy guide a few weeks ago... which I now realize may need some updating after all these changes.