Google Assistant is coming widely to Android phones. Here's how to use it and other ways to Google on your smartphone -- even for iPhone users.
Google Assistant has now come to Android phones beyond Google’s own Pixel. It’s a significant change to how Google’s previously offered search on mobile devices. It’s also the latest in a wide variety of ways people can search with Google on Android.
Below, how Google Assistant fits in with Google’s other search options on Android, as well as a refresher for tapping into Google on iPhone.
What is Google Assistant?
Google Assistant is Google’s next generation way of searching with Google. Rather than providing links to websites, Google Assistant is designed to have conversations with you in order to complete tasks.
Theoretically. As I’ll get to, Google has yet to deliver on that promise.
Like Siri, Google Assistant can interact with your Android phone to do a variety of tasks, such as setting alarms or playing music. Like Siri, it can even handle some home automation devices. Google has a page explaining various types of actions here.
Like Siri, you can ask Google Assistant general questions. Unlike Siri, you’ll likely find that Google can handle a wider range of questions than Siri can. That’s because Google Assistant taps into Google’s web-wide search results each and every time you search, making it more comprehensive.
Siri doesn’t go to the web each time you search. Instead, it tries to guess which of a number of sources it uses might have an answer to your question. If those don’t, sometimes it turns to Bing’s web-wide search results. Sometimes it doesn’t. Overall, it means that Siri might often fail for a variety of searches where Google succeeds.
For example, here’s Siri versus Google on a search for “Who won the Oscar for Best Picture this year?” Siri suggests visiting Oscars.com. Google gives the actual answer:
Google Assistant can come up with answers when you converse with it. For example, ask “how old is Stephen Colbert,” and it will give you his age. Ask then simply “how tall is he,” and it understands you want Colbert’s height, even though you never said his name again. But this isn’t something new or unique to Google Assistant. Google’s acted this way with spoken queries since 2013. Also, Siri is getting smarter about handling these types of conversations, too.
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