Earlier today, Google hosted its keynote speech to kick this year's I/O developer conference into high gear. As usual, there was a lot for the company to cover. Google is definitely moving in a direction where its massive presence can be a force of good, at least in some specific ways. Machine learning and artificial intelligence are boosting people's lives, and Google is looking for the small, intimate changes and additions that can ultimately make the biggest impact.
We saw features like Live Caption, which will bring up captions on every video you watch on your phone thanks to hardware changes below the hood and Google Assistant. This was definitely one of the best new things the company announced today, and it was great seeing it work in real-time.
But that was just one of many new features coming to Android.
I was hoping to see Google Assistant get even more conversational than it already is. And while Assistant is absolutely getting a nice upgrade moving forward, it missed this particular mark for me. Continued Conversation is getting better, too, now letting Assistant users ask an almost ridiculous number of questions and/or commands without having to constantly say "Hey Google" in between each.
Continued Conversation is a great feature by itself, and Google found a way to make it better. But it's still one-sided for the most part, with the user tossing out a question or command, one after another, with Assistant offering voice/visual prompts when necessary. But the actual conversation isn't there. And I know it's a bit more Sci-Fi than what we're probably ready for, but I was hoping that's what Google would surprise us with at I/O.
But as Google showed off a highlight reel of people using Assistant, I couldn't help but think about Microsoft's Cortana, too. One of my favorite things to do with that particular digital personal assistant is to play movie-based trivia games. And there are plenty of other Easter eggs and activities in there, too. The same can be said for Google Assistant. The feature offers plenty of games to play and other ways to stay entertained.
I'm asking Siri right now, as I write this, to "play a game" and nothing is happening. I'll be honest: This is the first time I've asked this question to the personal assistant, and I already knew nothing was going to happen. Which is probably why I've never asked before. Or why I've never asked for Siri to track Santa Clause for my kids, or other similarly fun activities.
I don't know why Siri doesn't have these types of features, but I can't help but think they'd be pretty awesome additions. I don't know how often these elements of Google Assistant (or Cortana for that matter) are used by folks in the real world, but I know that if I had the ability to use them, I would. Plus, I think the more use cases that people have to use Siri that could only be a good thing.
Of course, it's not a secret that Siri is a perfectly okay digital personal assistant, but that Google Assistant --and even Cortana in some ways-- far outpaces Apple's offering. So maybe this is one area that Google and Microsoft will continue to lead the charge. Maybe Apple just doesn't care about this particular aspect of a digital assistant. After all, Siri has been around for years and there has never even been a hint that these features could be added to the mix some day.
The potential good news here is that Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference kicks off in early June, so maybe we will indeed Siri get some new features.
But, what do you think? Is it time for Apple to teach Siri some new tricks, as far as the entertainment side of a digital assistant is concerned? Let me know!