At Google’s annual Google I/O conference, the company announced several Google product enhancements coming to its iOS offerings, including the release of The Google Assistant, improvements coming to Google Photos, and a new Smart Reply feature for Gmail on iOS.
As rumoured earlier this week, Google took the wraps off The Google Assistant today, announcing its availability on any iPhone running iOS 9.1 or later. Google also announced several general enhancements to the service that will also be available on iOS, including the ability to schedule new calendar appointments and create reminders using Google Home, making hands-free calls to mobile and landline phones in Canada and the U.S. for free, and access music, movies, and TV shows from Spotify, Soundcloud, Deezer, HBO NOW, CBS All Access, and HGTV. Assistant is also coming to Chromecast later this year, providing visual responses on users’ TV screens. Google also announced plans to add a new feature, dubbed Google Lens, to Assistant to allow users to take action based on data from their iPhone camera, such as reading a marquee to pull up relevant concert information. Google Assistant remains available only in the U.S. for now, however Google also announced that it plans to roll the service out to Australia, Canada, France, Germany, and Japan later this year.
Google also announced several new enhancements coming to Google Photos, expanding the service’s machine learning capabilities. A “Suggested Sharing” feature will offer up automatic reminders to share photos you’ve recently taken, selecting the right photos and suggesting who you should send them to based on who is in the photos. Friends and family that you share your photos with will also receive similar reminders to add their own photos to the mix. Users will also now be able to share entire libraries, allowing spouses and partners — or even just close friends — to combine their photo collections in one place. Library sharing can also be selectively limited to photos of certain people, or only photos added after a specific date. A new Photo Books service is also being rolled into Google Photos, similar in concept to what Apple has been offering for several years in iPhoto and Photos on macOS, however Google plans to take this a step further by allowing users to create and order printed photo albums even from an iPhone, and leveraging Google’s machine learning to help automatically select the appropriate photos and the best shots, and even plants bring pre-created Photo Book suggestions to the app at some point in the future. The new sharing features in Google Photos are expected to be available across the iOS, web, and Android apps “in the coming weeks,” while Photo Books are rolling out today in the U.S. in the web app, and will come to Android and iOS next week, with support for other countries being added “soon.”