Google Assistant’s global drive helped it quadruple its active users in 2018

Talking to yourself is no longer a sign of madness if you have a smart assistant listening — and it seems that an awful lot of people are chatting to the Google Assistant. According to a year-in-review released by Google for CES 2019, its virtual voice assistant gained four times more active users in 2018, and Google expects it to be available on a billion devices by the end of January.

A big part of Google Assistant’s wide availability is Google’s drive to make it available in as many languages and countries as possible. 2018 saw the Assistant come to 14 new countries and learn 8 new languages — bringing the grand total up to 80 countries and a staggering 30 languages. Most excitingly though, the Assistant became truly bilingual in 2018 — so you can speak two different languages to your Google Assistant and it’ll be able to respond in kind without breaking stride.

Google has never been shy of adding new features either, and this year saw a huge number of tweaks and additions to the voice assistant. Google added even more regional accents and voices, more smart home support, and many other new features.

google duplex hands on io2018 2835

But in a year of big new features, the biggest was Duplex. Duplex changes your voice assistant to a true personal assistant, allowing your A.I. friend to call up businesses and book reservations or appointments. Pixel users in certain U.S. states were the first to be able to try this out, and you can expect to see a lot more of this tech in 2019.

But it wasn’t all about the software — Google also launched its first smart display in 2018, the Google Home Hub. The addition of a display makes it possible for Google Assistant to display visual information, YouTube videos, and even food recipes. It seems we’ve welcomed the Home Hub into our homes with open arms, too — one in every seven Google Home devices activated over the holiday period was a Home Hub, according to Google. They’ve been put to good use, too, with Home Hubs having been used to help cook 16 million recipes over that same period — with a million of those on Christmas Day itself.

All in all, it’s been a bumper year for the Google Assistant, and it’s a trend that’s likely to continue into 2019. With Amazon and Apple not letting up in the voice assistant war, you can bet we’ll see more hardware and software from all camps, and more smart integration entering homes.


In the age of Alexa and Siri, Cortana’s halo has grown dim

In a sea of voice assistants, Cortana has become almost irrelevant. The nearly five-year-old voice assistant is seeing little love from consumers, and here’s why it is dead.
Smart Home

What exactly is Alexa? Where does she come from? And how does she work?

While "Alexa" has become synonymous with products like the Amazon Echo, you can't actually go out and buy an "Alexa." So what is Alexa? How does she work? Here's everything you need to know about Amazon's virtual assistant.
Smart Home

Walmart slashes prices on Google Home during its Presidents’ Day sale

Walmart slashes prices on Google Home during its Presidents' Day sale. Whether you're taking your first step in configuring a smart home or expanding to every room, Walmart has excellent sale prices for all the key components.
Smart Home

Language barrier? Psh. Here's how to make your Google Home an ace translator

You can now use interpreter mode on your Google Home devices. This means, you can use your Google Home device to translate conversations in real-time. Here's how to use interpreter mode.

Galaxy Watch Active isn't official yet, but you can see it in Samsung's own app

Samsung may be about to resurrect its Sport line of smartwatches under a new name: The Galaxy Watch Sport Active. Leaks and rumors are building our picture of the device at the moment.

Stop buying old tablets, says Samsung, buy the new Galaxy Tab S5e instead

Samsung has launched the Galaxy Tab S5e -- the E is for Essential -- a reasonably priced tablet that includes many of the features we like from the Tab A 10.5, and the Tab S4. Here's what you need to know.

Focals succeed where Google Glass fumbled (but do we really need smartglasses?)

It’s been seven years since Google took the wraps off Google Glass. Now, we’re finally getting a modern-day equivalent we want to wear. North’s Focals combine subtle style with an intuitive interface to craft smartglasses you’ll…

Bag yourself a bargain with the best budget tablets under $200

The battle for your budget tablet affections is really ramping up. Which tablet, costing less than $200, should be commanding your attention? We take a look at some different options for the budget-conscious.

What is Wi-Fi 6? Here's a look at the next evolution of the wireless standard

We're exploring the new naming convention for wireless standards, how it affects the devices you buy, and what the upcoming Wi-Fi generation is changing for the better.
Home Theater

Samsung accidentally leaks its new Galaxy Buds ahead of launch

It's been all but certain that Samsung would launch a successor to its Gear IconX wireless earbuds soon, but a newly leaked photo and recent FCC certification document seems to indicate that the debut is very close.
Home Theater

Hi-res streaming audio service Qobuz arrives in U.S., threatens Tidal’s monopoly

For several years, Tidal enjoyed a monopoly on hi-res music streaming in the U.S. Now, French company Qobuz is here to offer some competition with a variety of monthly plans starting at $10 a month.

These 13 gadgets walk a fine line between ingenious and insane

The annual avalanche of devices and gadgets is astounding, but how many will succeed? A few are destined to spark new trends, while the majority fade deservedly into obscurity. We look at some gadgets on the border of brilliant and bonkers.

OnePlus 6T vs. Honor View 20: We compare the cameras in these ‘flagship killers’

For less than $600, you can buy either the OnePlus 6T or the Honor View 20, two extremely capable smartphones with plenty of exciting features. But which one has the best camera? We found out on a recent trip to France.

Save space on your iPhone by turning off Live Photos in the camera app

If you want to save storage space on your iPhone or reduce the size of your backup for iCloud, then you should think about turning off Live Photos in the camera app. Find out exactly how to do it with our easy guide.