Google has kickstarted MWC 2019 by announcing some major changes and improvements coming to Assistant. Firstly, it is bringing its virtual assistant to KaiOS which is found powering many low-end phones in parts of Asia, Brazil, and Mexico.
These low-end phones are too slow and weak to run on Android and pack a very small display. So Google says that the addition of Assistant and voice typing to these devices will help improve the user experience.
Google is also expanding bilingual support to Assistant. Up until now, Google Assistant only had bilingual support for English, Spanish, German, French, Japanese, and Italian languages. That is being expanded to include support for Korean, Hindi, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, and Dutch.
There’s also support for new Indic languages including Marathi, Bengali, Tamil, Telugu, Gujarati, Kannada, Malayalam, and Urdu.
Google Assistant will now also be able to control Digital Wellbeing settings on Android 9.0 Pie devices. This means one can use the voice assistant to enable Do Not Disturb or Wind Down mode directly from their voice.
Additionally, Google is bringing Assistant integration to Android Messages. The integration will allow the Assistant to make some useful suggestions depending on the message conversation. Google is not uploading your messages to its servers for this feature and is instead relying on local analysis. Google Assistant will also show relevant cards depending on your conversation so it can show a card for a movie you are talking about or a restaurant you are planning on going to.
Google Assistant is already available inside Google Maps. However, the feature is limited to users with English set as their system language. Google is now expanding this feature to all languages.
Lastly, Google announced that devices from Xiaomi, Vivo, TCL, and others will feature a dedicated Google Assistant button. A single press will bring up Google Assistant while a double-tap will bring up the Google Assistant feed. Finally, a long press will trigger the “walkie talkie” mode.