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.
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.