In the age of the smartphone one action has become a common sight: users talking to their phones and devices and asking them to do some task or other. This is the function of the virtual assistant, software agents that interpret vocal commands into functions to activate tasks, usually accompanied by a female voice. This has seen the rise of Siri on iPhones, Cortana on Windows, and Google Assistant which answers to the summons of “Ok, Google”. As a Google app, Google Assistant can also be downloaded for use on Apple iPhones, and even be configured for activation via Siri.
Tech Crunch has it that the latest update on the iOS version of Google Assistant can now be launched courtesy of an iPhone’s own in-house virtual assistant Siri. This is not an automatic feature however, and can only be utilized by means of recording a “Siri Shortcut”, or custom command for Siri to have her open up some app or feature on the phone that its default command library does not cover. Upon activating the updated Google Assistant, it will facilitate the input of a new Siri Shortcut for itself. For example, you can set to activate the Assistant by saying “Hey Siri, Ok Google”.
At least, that is the recommended phrase by Google for their Assistant app, carried over from its available version on the competing Android smartphones. Still, in programming the needed Siri Shortcut a user can change the command to anything else (but must have “Google” in it to be registered properly). So with a spoken “Hey Siri, Ok Google” to one’s iPhone with Google Assistant installed, the user need only wait for the app itself to open up, before starting to make a request or query. Already though, the notion that two “competing” virtual assistants can be stringed together like that is drawing some chuckles online.
The Google Assistant was initially launched in 2016 as part and parcel of two systems, the Allo messaging app and the Google Home smart speaker. It has since been developed into an app all its own, accepting input in “natural voice” and keyboard input. While praised as being potentially more intelligent in interpreting commands than Siri and Cortana, as well as the older Google Now feature of the Google Search app for mobile, it has also been bashed for its poor privacy levels, encouraging users to enable its tracking of web and app activity, translated to tracking browser history, GPS location and credit card purchases.
Image courtesy of The Verge