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Google Assistant

After a period of exclusivity on the Pixel and Pixel XL smartphones, it began to be deployed on other Android devices in February 2017, including third-party smartphones and Android Wear (now Wear OS), and was released as a standalone app on the iOS operating system in May 2017.

Alongside the announcement of a software development kit in April 2017, the Assistant has been, and is being, further extended to support a large variety of devices, including cars and third party smart home appliances.

In the same nature and manner as Google Now, the Assistant is able to search the Internet, schedule events and alarms, adjust hardware settings on the user's device, and show information from the user's Google account.

Google has also announced that the Assistant will be able to identify objects and gather visual information through the device's camera, and support purchasing products and sending money, as well as identifying songs.

These devices have support for Google Duo video calls, YouTube videos, Google Maps directions, a Google Calendar agenda, viewing of smart camera footage, in addition to services which work with Google Home devices.[3]

To incentivize developers to build Actions, Google announced a competition, in which first place won tickets to Google's 2018 developer conference, $10,000, and a walk-through of Google's campus, while second place and third place received $7,500 and $5,000, respectively, and a Google Home.[31]

Google Assistant, in the nature and manner of Google Now, can search the Internet, schedule events and alarms, adjust hardware settings on the user's device, and show information from the user's Google account.

In February 2017, Google announced that users of Google Home would be able to shop entirely by voice for products through its Google Express shopping service, with products available from Whole Foods Market, Costco, Walgreens, PetSmart, and Bed Bath &

The Google Assistant allows users to activate and modify vocal shortcut commands in order to perform actions on their device (both Android and iPad/iPhone) or configuring it as a hub for home automation.

This was made possible by WaveNet, a voice synthesizer developed by DeepMind, which significantly reduced the amount of audio samples that a voice actor was required to produce for creating a voice model.[69]

For instance, in the Crystal Ball game the voice would speak slow and soft during the intro and before the answer is revealed to make the game more excitable and in the Lucky Trivia game the voice would become excitable like a game show host.

The assistant can autonomously complete tasks such as calling a hair salon to book an appointment, scheduling a restaurant reservation, or calling businesses to verify holiday store hours.[74]

While Duplex can complete most of its tasks fully autonomously, it is able to recognize situations that it is unable to complete and can signal a human operator to finish the task.

Duplex was created to speak in a more natural voice and language by incorporating speech disfluencies such as filler words like 'hmm' and 'uh' and using common phrases such as 'mhm' and 'gotcha', along with more human-like intonation and response latency.[75][76][77]

Privacy advocates have also raised concerns of how the millions of vocal samples gathered from consumers are fed back into the algorithms of virtual assistants, making these forms of AI smarter with each use.

Though these features individualize the user experience, critics are unsure about the long term implications of giving 'the company unprecedented access to human patterns and preferences that are crucial to the next phase of artificial intelligence'.[84]

Google later further clarified in a statement saying, 'We are designing this feature with disclosure built-in, and we'll make sure the system is appropriately identified.'[86][82]

In July 2019 Belgian public broadcaster VRT NWS published an article revealing that third party contractors paid to transcribe audio clips collected by Google Assistant listened to sensitive information about users.

On August 1, 2019, Germany's Hamburg Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information has initiated an administrative procedure to prohibit Google from carrying out corresponding evaluations by employees or third parties for the period of three months to provisionally protect the rights of privacy of data subjects for the time being, citing GDPR.[92]

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