May 24, 2017
Google announced new technology at its yearly developers conference last week. Many of these announcements involve updates to existing tech, instead of new gadgets. These updates may make life a little easier.
Gmail Smart Reply
Google is adding a feature to Gmail to make it easier for the user to answer emails. Smart Reply learns how you write and suggests three short replies to emails you receive. You can choose one and send it or add more words to the Smart Reply.
Smart Reply will be offered in English and will expand to Spanish later this year.
Google Assistant updates
Google Assistant, the digital assistant from Google, is getting updates with new features. You will be able to use Google Assistant to do more things on more devices.
Google Assistant new features
For example, Google Assistant is learning to read. Users will be able to type questions to Google Assistant on their phones in addition to using voice commands.
History will be added to Google Assistant so users can see what they have asked in the past.
Google Assistant can help make your home smarter as it now works with over 70 smart home partners. Use your voice to control your smart home devices with Google Home.
More languages are coming to Google Assistant on Android. Google Assistant soon will be available in Japanese, Brazilian Portuguese, French, and German. By the end of 2017, Google Assistant will be available in Italian, Korean and Spanish.
Google Assistant on the iPhone
Google Assistant is now available on the iPhone in the United States. People who want to use Google Assistant, but also want to use an iPhone, can now download the Google Assistant app.
Unlike Siri, Google Assistant cannot be started by pressing the Home button on the iPhone. Users must go into the app to use Google Assistant on an iPhone.
The Google Assistant app is free in the iTunes App Store.
Google is making its Google Home smart speaker more useful. Google Home works with Google Assistant and will be able to let you know about information such as flight delays and traffic problems that may delay your travels.
Users do not even have to ask for such assistance. Google Home will light up to let users know there is an alert. Then, they just have to ask what the alert is about.
Users also can now set calendar appointments and reminders through Google Home. The information will appear across all your devices.
Google Home will be able use voice activation for phone calls. Users can speak to Google Home to place calls and talk on the phone.
Google Home will recognize voices. For example if you tell it, ‘call Mom,’ it will call your mother and not your partner’s or roommate’s mother. Google Home calls will be free to mobile phones and to landlines in the U.S. and Canada.
Google Home will be getting bluetooth so you can stream your music to it. You will also be able to play music directly from services such as Spotify, Soundcloud and Deezer.
If you have a Chromecast, you will be able to use your television as a screen for Google Home. If you connect your Google Home to your Chromecast, you will be able to see Google Home's answers to your questions on your TV. This feature will be added later in 2017.
Google is improving its ability to identify what is in a photo. For example, with Google Lens users could point their cameras at a poster for an event and do things such as adding the event to their calendars, buying tickets to the event or finding out more about it.
They can also use Google Lens to point their phone cameras at a restaurant and get reviews for it. Or, they can focus on a flower and Google Lens will identify the flower and suggest a nearby flower shop.
But the coolest trick of Google Lens may be one involving your router. Point the camera at a router's password code and Google Lens will automatically log you into the network.
Last month, we reported on how Google and Pinterest were changing image search. Google Lens shows the increasing importance of image search to Google.
In a tweet, Pinterest referred to the competition in image recognition with Google:
Google added new useful features to Google Photos that makes sharing your photos easier.
Suggested Photos is a new feature of Google Photos that makes sharing easier. Suggested Photos will identify people in a user’s photos and suggest that the user send them those photos. Users can even set Suggested Photos to send the photos automatically to people in the photos, without the need for a suggestion.
This video shows how Suggested Photos works:
Shared Libraries is a new feature that lets users share their entire Google Photos library, or large parts of it, with other people.
Users of Google Photos can now order printed books of their photos. Google will choose your best photos or you can choose them yourself. Google Photos will make sure there are no duplicates and that you are choosing the best photo.
Photo Books start with 20 pages at $9.99 for soft cover and $19.99 for hard cover. The books will be available in the US first and then in other countries later this year.
I’m Caty Weaver.
Carolyn Nicander Mohr wrote this report for VOA Learning English. Catherine Kelly Weaver was the editor.
Are you interested in the new announcements from Google? Which new tech are you most likely to try?
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Words in This Story
gadget - n. a small, useful device
reply - n. something said, written, or done as an answer or response
digital assistant - n. an application program that can understand natural language and complete electronic tasks for the user
device - n. an object, machine, or piece of equipment that has been made for some special purpose
identify -v. to know and say who someone is or what something is
focus -v. to direct your attention or effort at something specific
cool - adj. very fashionable, stylish, or appealing in a way that is generally approved of
router - n. a device that sends data from one place to another within a computer network or between computer networks
duplicate - adj. exactly the same as something else