A series of changes are coming to Google Home on Google Assistant, from payments for voice apps, to proactive notifications, and hands-free phone calls.
“You can call any landline or mobile phone in the U.S. or Canada completely free and it’s all done in a hands-free way,” said Google Home VP Rishi Chandra.
Phone calls for Google Assistant will roll out to all existing Google Home devices in the coming months, Chandra said.
The news was announced today at I/O, Google’s annual developer conference.
Google actions were made available for Android and iPhone smartphones today, following an announcement by the company that 100 million devices currently support the assistant competing with Bixby, Cortana, and other intelligent assistants.
Other changes on the way: Spotify’s free music service will become available through Google Home, and Bluetooth support will allow Home users to play any audio from virtually any device. Google actions, like Google’s voice app, are now able to make payments by voice.
Google Assistant will also be able to work with Lens, Google’s new computer vision service. With Lens, the assistant can look at things in the natural world like a business and share info.
Lens with Google Assistant will be able to recognize skyscrapers, works of art, businesses, and other visuals. Holding the camera with Lens up to a marquee for example, will allow a user to point their camera at a theatre marquee then choose to add the show to your calendar or buy a ticket.
Plans to give Google Assistant proactive notifications come a day after Amazon announced plans to give its Echo and other Alexa-enabled devices the ability to receive push notifications from select Alexa skills.
The ability to interact with Google Assistant via Google Home and and a visual display competes with new Amazon Echo Show and Echo Look devices that made their debut in the month leading up to I/O.
The Google Assistant has seen a broad series of changes since it debuted at I/O one year ago.
Less than a month ago, the intelligent assistant gained the ability to recognize up to six unique voices and Google accounts. Support for new languages like Spanish and Italian are coming to the assistant later this year, as well as multi-user support in countries outside the United States.
The Actions on Google platform for the creation of Google voice apps launched last December. Since then, the Google Assistant ecosystem of third party apps has to grown to include near 250 voice apps, from a Bible app that reads scripture based on your mood to a slang dictionary to the ability to control smart locks, lightbulbs, and security systems.