Technology Google Assistant to be 'news host' on devices
Google promises to better protect user privacy
In addition to apologizing for invading user privacy by listening in on private audio recordings "to help improve speech technology for different languages," Google announced Monday that the company is making some changes regarding the development of the Assistant's technology to better protect their customers' privacy. Earlier this year, it was discovered that Google contractors have been listening to private, Google Assistant-recorded conversations. On Monday, the company apologized for the scandal and outlined the changes that will be implemented to protect confidential user information.
Google said Wednesday its digital assistant will serve as a "news host" on its connected devices to deliver stories from a variety of its media partners.
The feature called Your News Update will be activated by asking the Google Assistant to read the news.
The artificial intelligence program will deliver "a mix of short news stories chosen in that moment based on your interests, location, user history and preferences, as well as the top news stories out there," said product manager Liz Gannes in a blog post.
Google Assistant is now available for most Chromebooks
Google has started rolling out Chrome OS 77, and it makes Assistant widely available to the devices the platform powers. The voice AI used to be a Pixel exclusive, though adventurous users have been able to switch it on as a hidden feature for a while if they're in one of Chrome OS' beta channels. The platform's latest version makes Assistant available "on most Chromebooks," and all users need to do to summon it is to say Hey Google" or clickIn addition, the new version lets users control audio from one place, making it easy mute their device if, say, a video suddenly starts playing from one of their many, many tabs. They can easily access those controls by clicking on the bottom right corner of the screen.
The assistant will offer stories from partners including CBS, Politico, Fox News and CNN based on user preferences and other factors.
It can offer news, for example, about the user's favorite sports teams or specific local or business events.
"In between stories, the Google Assistant serves as your smart news host that introduces which publishers and updates are next," Gannes said.
The feature is available in English in the United States, and will expand internationally next year, for people with compatable smartphones and connected speakers.
It is activated by saying, "Hey Google, play me the news."
Amazon offers a similar "flash briefing" feature for its Alexa-powered devices.
Watch Google Assistant’s new Ambient Mode in action for the first time .
But we still don’t know when it will be rolled outAmbient Mode looks pretty handy — even if it might be seems somewhat duplicative of functionality you’d already find on a Google Nest Hub, as my colleague Dieter Bohn pointed out in his original article.
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