Google reveals new 'personal assistant' for around home


Google has revealed a new personal assistant for around the house that can control, run and organise your entire 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 the firm's chief.

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

Mr Pichai said of the new Google Home personal assistant connects to WiFi and can 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 new, more intelligent software also focuses on understanding context to answer queries and has been built into the existing Google software that appears 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 their communication.

Google said the app has a smart reply mode that can offer template replies based on the content of messages you receive, even doing so for photos as the app can "read" images as well as text, while Duo is 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. 

Known as "Android N", new multi-tasking features including a split-screen setting that can show two apps at once for the first time on both phones and tablets on Android was showcased alongside a picture-in-picture feature. 

The key trend of virtual reality also featured during the event as a platform for creating and streamlining virtual reality content  - called Daydream - was announced.

The new platform 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, have already signed up to Daydream, Google said - who also unveiled a basic blueprint for recommended VR headset design.

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

The second generation software for their smartwatches, Android Wear 2.0, was also revealed. 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. 

Closing the presentation, Mr Pichai again referenced Google's desire to use artificial intelligence and machine learning to help consumers. 

"We live in an extraordinary time for computing," he said, adding that computers have 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 though to be impossible may in fact be possible."