Google starts thinking of Assistant at work

A long-standing gripe I've had with Google's 'smart' speakers has been simple: it's totally unaware of the majority of my day at work, and the company seemingly had no interest in building support for G Suite accounts. Three years on, that seems to be changing in a big way.

Assistant is finally getting ready for work, and what's fascinating is coming to realize how compelling it could be for businesses that are already using Google's tools all day long, even at a basic level. In the near future, Assistant will be able to:

  • Access work calendars, finally, on Assistant devices (provided your admin doesn't disable it)
  • Jump into work meetings from Assistant devices by saying 'Hey Google, join my next meeting'
  • Hangouts Meet hardware will allow voice commands as well, so you can say "Hey Google, end the meeting" or "turn on spoken feedback" to get accessibility features.

In my mind, these are all obvious features because many of us are already using these things at work, and no other company can offer this level of integration between home and the office. It's been a huge blind spot for years, but Google appears to be listening, finally.

These are interesting improvements when shown alongside the other intelligence that's arriving as well, including "neural-network powered" grammar and spelling checking for Docs as well as suggestions related to your own company's lingo, such as an internal project name that you're trying to type.

Google's smarts are finally reaching a point where the sheer amount of information across a company can be used to tailor experiences in documents and physical office spaces, which is fascinating to consider. In the old world, Microsoft could have tied work together, but could never have bridged the gap to home in the same way.

This only furthers my fascination with Duplex, the company's automation tool that deals with booking movies and cars on the web, and how that will extend into our work lives as well. It's easy to imagine a future in which Duplex for work can automate banal business tasks by simply showing it how to click around, saving both time and money for companies that would otherwise need to build complicated integrations.

We've finally moved out of an era where we were building the tools to just get shit done, into a new world in which our tools are actually learning about us and the way we work, in order to be more useful. How that will play out is in its infancy, but it's clear that it'll change how we interact with computers in the long run.

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