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October 4, 2018

Google Assistant gets a touchy-feely makeover, adds voice purchasing

by John_A

We’ve seen some of Google’s preinstalled Android apps get significant design changes over the last few months — and it looks like it’s finally Google Assistant‘s turn to go under the knife. Starting October 3, Google is rolling out an update for Google Assistant on iOS and Android that will change the look of the Assistant’s UI, and make it easier to use.

Google says it’s noticed a lot of people use a combination of touch and voice input when using the Google Assistant, and often switch between the two during normal use. As such, it’s made being able to easily swap back and forth between inputs a central element of the Assistant’s redesign.

Options are key. Ask the Google Assistant a question, and while it’ll still give you an answer out loud, it’ll also offer a large card with options to tap, links for more information, or sliders to mess with. It’s a blending of touch and voice, and the new style borrows more than a little from the large cards of Google Now.

Changes to how voice-led text messages work are particularly welcome, and users will now find it easier to edit a message before it’s sent. Bigger visuals also mean it’s easier to get the information you need at a glance, and commands that center on smart home devices will often bring up a slider, allowing users to fine-tune their smart lighting’s brightness, or alter the volume of their streaming music.

Checking on your day will also be easier than ever before, and Android users will be able to simply swipe up on their Assistant’s home page to get personalized information and actions based on location and time of day.

Certain apps will also be able to show unique content, such as preview gifs of workouts on Fitstar, or larger images of recipes from Food Network. Developers will be able to take these “Actions” even further too, and users will be able to complete in-app purchases through these cards. For instance, Starbucks will offer recommended items, and Headspace users will be able to purchase a subscription using nothing but their voice. Google hopes this process will streamline purchases for apps, as it will allow users to simply use their Google accounts to sign up — rather than going through the lengthy process of making a new account with the app.

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