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Google's Voice-Enabled Assistant Comes To The iPhone

The intelligent digital assistant isn't just for Pixel and Google Home users anymore.

Posted on May 17, 2017, at 1:46 p.m. ET


Google Assistant, the voice-controlled software powered by Google's AI and machine learning technology, is making its way to iPhone. The software was originally exclusive to the Google Pixel smartphone and Google Home smart speaker. Today, at the company's big developer conference, VP of engineering Scott Huffman announced that Google Assistant will be available on iOS as a free app for download, presumably as a challenge to the iPhone's native Siri assistant.

The iPhone app is only available to US users for now (Home launched for UK in March, and Pixel is now available in Australia, Canada, and Germany). Google Assistant will support French, German, Brazilian Portuguese, and Japanese soon, with Italian, Spanish, and Korean later this year. While the iOS version won't have the deep integration that it does on Android, it will be able to send iMessages, for example, but not set alarms.

Google Assistant is also coming to many more products — the company is making an SDK available to hardware developers who want to integrate the voice assistant in their products — and adding new updates. For example, you’ll be able to type questions, instead of just speaking. Assistant can also take advantage of Google Lens, a new software capability that allows Assistant to “see” using the phone’s camera. Lens can be a Shazam for different plant types, be a live translator for languages like Japanese, or be used to automatically connect to a Wi-Fi network by recognizing credentials from the back of a router.

Assistant is going to be more integrated into Google Photos too. With “suggestive sharing,” the app will use AI to identify people in photos and suggest you share those photos with that person.

Additionally, users can now buy stuff with Google Assistant. In the onstage demo at Google I/O, the speaker ordered a salad from Panera Bread and was able to use her fingerprint to authenticate the payment.

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.