Google Assistant, the artificially-intelligent bot that currently powers the messaging app Allo, will soon have a second language — Hindi, the fourth most spoken language in the world.
Assistant performs functions similar to Google Now, where you can receive answers to questions and ask Google to execute functions for you. The Google Assistant is to Google Home, like Alexa is to the Amazon Echo. It’s also expected to be featured prominently in the upcoming Pixel smartphones, but you’ll have to wait until October 4 to find out more.
Related: Hands-on: Google Allo
Google Assistant has limited language support
Assistant is still in its “Preview Edition” in Allo, but we expect that to change once Google Home officially launches on October 4. The AI can currently respond in English, but it can also bring up translations from Google Translate.
Google has plans to expand to more languages, and the Assistant is currently learning Hindi. Full support will come later this year, and the Assistant will also offer Smart Replies in Hindi. Smart Reply lets you quickly respond to messages with a tap, and the responses adapt to the way you talk the more you use Allo.
Google Assistant has a childhood
Google is hoping to make Assistant a little more personable, and according to a report from Fast Company, the company wants to give it a back story. Google has enlisted the help of Google Doodle head Ryan Germick, as well as ex-Pixar animator Emma Coats, to give Assistant a personality.
In fact, Coats describes working on Assistant as working on a “character,” the same way she would over at Pixar. Part of that means giving Assistant a childhood, allowing users to relate to it as if it actually had a life. Not only that, but the team is experimenting with ways to build trust between the user and Assistant by making it seem vulnerable every now and then as if it needed the user.
This is not available yet in the Preview Edition of Assistant in Allo. If you ask for its story, Assistant responds with, “I’m still on the very first chapter.”
Google Assistant will feature third-party integration
“Think of the assistant — we think of it as a conversational assistant — we want users to have an ongoing two-way dialogue,” Google CEO Sundar Pichai said at I/O.
Pichai gave an example of Google Assistant’s capabilities, asking the Assistant in a demo about what movies were playing tonight. The assistant responded with three movies. Pichai asked the assistant to refine the search to make it family friendly, and the Assistant returned with a few options, including The Jungle Book.
Pichai selected The Jungle Book, and the Assistant asked if he wanted four tickets, as it was contextually aware of how many people are in his family. After Pichai said yes, the Assistant went ahead and pulled up the tickets with a third-party ticket vendor.
Assistant can bring up movies now, but it can’t order them from a third-party vendor. It has zero third-party integration at the moment via Allo, and that’s likely to come through an update after Home launches in October. Soon, you’ll be able to order a pizza with Assistant, book a restaurant, call an Uber, and more.
Article originally published in May. Christian de Looper contributed to this report. Updated on 09-27-2016 by Julian Chokkattu: Added news about upcoming Hindi support.