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Google reveals home personal assistant

Press AssociationPress Association 19/05/2016

Google has revealed a new personal assistant for around the house that can control, run and organise your home using just your voice.

The device, a voice-activated speaker called Google Home, forms the centre of a Google plan to use artificial intelligence in computing to help give every user "their own individual Google" by becoming personal to them, according to Google chief executive officer Sundar Pichai.

Mr Pichai used a keynote presentation at the firm's I/O developer conference in California to reveal new apps, software and the voice-activated personal assistant that take advantage of new Google software that is better at understanding context.

He said the Google Home personal assistant connected to wi-fi and could control other connected appliances: "Computing is poised to evolve beyond just phones. It will be about the context. On phones, in cars, in your homes."

The more intelligent software also focused on understanding context to answer queries and had been built into Google software already on modern smartphones.

According to the technology giant, the new Google Assistant software will be able to offer proactive suggestions such as restaurant or movie recommendations as users have text message conversations or interact with Google services directly.

Google also announced two new apps that will use Google Assistant - a messaging app called Allo that learns about a user over time and aids his or her communication.

Google said the app had a smart reply mode that could offer template replies based on the content of messages already received, even doing so for photos as the app could "read" images as well as text, while Duo was a video-calling app based on a user's phone number and open to all smartphones.

The next version of Google's mobile operating system, Android, was also discussed.

It is known as "Android N", which has new multi-tasking functions including a split-screen setting that can show two apps at once on phones and tablets on Android, and a picture-in-picture feature.

A platform called Daydream for creating and streamlining virtual reality content was also announced.

It will serve as a proofing ground for VR content, Google says, and contains a list of specifications Google believes virtual reality product should meet. Smartphones makers including Samsung, HTC and Huawei, had already signed up to Daydream, said Google, which also unveiled a basic blueprint for recommended VR headset design.

A new motion controller for use alongside headsets was also revealed.

Second-generation software for Google smartwatches, Android Wear 2.0, was also unveiled. As part of the update, apps on a smartwatch will fully function without being linked to a phone for the first time, and a keyboard to enable users to reply to messages on their watch face was also introduced.

"We live in an extraordinary time for computing," Mr Pichai said, adding that computers had the potential to help solve issues such as climate change and education.

"The real test is whether humans can achieve a lot more with the support of AI assisting them. Things previously thought to be impossible may, in fact, be possible."

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