25 May, 2016
Last week, Google held a conference where the company announced what it has planned for the coming months.
Google's 2016 I/O conference for software developers took place in Mountain View, California. The event was held just a short distance from Google's headquarters.
This year the company talked about combining mobile and search products with new services, other products and application programs, better known as apps.
Google Assistant is an example. Google Assistant is a service designed to help users get things done. It learns about you through your questions, as if you were talking to a person who knows you.
Using advanced technology, Google Assistant can communicate as if it were a real person. For example, someone is standing in front of a sculpture and asks Google Assistant, "Who is the artist?" The service would know where the person asking the question was and what he or she was talking about, providing the name of the sculpture's artist as the answer.
So the user can then say, "When was he born?" and Google Assistant would know the question relates to the artist named in the earlier answer.
The service can also search a user's photographs and videos. The user can ask to "search my photos for hugs." Google Assistant then provides all of the images of individuals hugging.
The service will be offered on wireless devices, computers, televisions, cars and in the home.
Google Home is a new device that provides Google Assistant using your voice. Like Amazon's hands-free speaker Echo, Google Home can play music, perform searches and help direct projects.
Home has a speaker at the bottom to play music, podcasts and audiobooks. The top is white, but the base will be available in different colors and materials.
Users will be able to connect to Google Home in more than one place so music can be played throughout the user's home. It can also connect to Chromecast, Google's video streaming device, so you can ask Google Home to show you something on TV.
Home should be available in the next few months.
Google is launching a new messaging app called Allo. The app uses your phone number so it is easy to connect with your contacts.
Within Allo, users can send text messages, photos, stickers and emoji images. Allo lets users SHOUT or talk softly, changing the size of the font, emoji or sticker with a slider.
Users can add photos and draw on photos within Allo.
Google Assistant is available within Allo. Users can ask Google Assistant questions and get answers within the Allo app. For example, a user can ask, "When is my next appointment today?" and get the answer without leaving Allo.
The new app comes with a feature called Smart Reply. Smart Reply learns how you speak and suggests answers based on what you would say. The more you use Allo, the better the suggestions should become. It can even suggest emojis and stickers, if you are the kind of person who uses those.
Smart Reply works with photographs, understanding what is in the photo. For example, you receive a photo of some tasty linguine with white clam sauce. The Smart Replies might say, "I love linguine!" Google has found Smart Replies to be correct in interpreting photos 90 percent of the time.
Sign up at Google Play to get a notice when Allo becomes available.
Duo is Google's new video chat app. Duo is similar to Apple's FaceTime, but available only as video and only on mobile devices.
The new app will work across different devices so an Android user can call an iPhone user, for example. Like Allo, Duo's operations are based on the user's phone number.
This video shows how Duo works:
Duo can adjust the quality of a video based on the strength of the Internet signal. If the user has a weak Internet connection, the video will adjust to a lower quality so the chat can continue.
Duo will be available later this year on Android as well iPhone and iPad.
Sign up on Google Play to be get a notice when Duo becomes available.
Google has signed up over 40 car makers to offer Android Auto, the infotainment system for automobiles. Over 100 models of cars offer Android Auto. Google expects this number to double by the end of the year.
More than 100 apps are available on Android Auto. The service is available in 30 countries; however, not all apps are available in all countries. Google Assistant will be available on Android Auto.
"Ok, Google" will be coming to Android Auto so you can use your voice to start a search. The Google traffic app Waze soon will be available in Android Auto to provide real-time traffic and driving information. Google is also working on connecting phones wirelessly to Android Auto.
I'm Caty Weaver.
Carolyn Mohr wrote this report for VOA Learning English. George Grow was the editor.
Are you looking forward to these new products and services from Google? Would you like to use Google Assistant? Would you find it handy to have Google Assistant available in your home, car and phone?
Share your thoughts in the Comments Section below or on 51VOA.COM.
Words in This Story
sculpture - n. a piece of art that is made by carving or molding clay, stone, metal, etc.
emoji - n. a small digital image or icon used to express an idea, emotion, etc., in electronic communication
font - n. a set of letters, numbers, and punctuation marks that are all one size and style
slider - n. a control that is moved horizontally or vertically to control a variable, such as the volume of a radio
chat - v. to talk over the Internet by sending messages back and forth
adjust - v. to change (something) in a minor way so that it works better
infotainment - n. programs that present information (such as news) in a way that is meant to be entertaining