Not so long ago, you needed to be a wealthy business mogul in order to afford to hire an assistant. Thanks to the artificial intelligence that is becoming a part of everyday life for rich and poor alike, you don’t need to be a corporate jet-setter to make those mundane tasks in your life flow more smoothly. Now you can welcome electronic virtual helpers like Google Assistant into your routine.
What Is Google Assistant?
It might have come a little late to the virtual helper party, but Google Assistant is now giving Alexa, Siri and Cortana – from Amazon, Apple and Microsoft respectively – a run for their money. All of them work on the same general concept: You get its attention by saying a catch phrase such as “hey, Google” or “OK, Google” and then give it your instructions. In seconds, you can get sports scores, check the weather, find out if you have an appointment, play a party game, hear a joke or search for a recipe that can be read step by step as you prepare it. Although it has only been available to consumers for a little more than two years, Google Assistant now works with over 5,000 devices including smartphones, smart TVs, speakers, thermostats, home security system and an ever-increasing number of others.
Google Assistant and its competitors can all perform many of these functions well. However, the geniuses behind Google are not content to just measure up. Some additional capabilities of Google Assistant are its ability to make follow-up requests without saying the initial “Hey, Google or “OK, Google” catch phrase again. This makes the dialogue with your virtual helper more like a conversation. Your Google Assistant can also tackle multiple tasks at the same time, which is quite a linguistic feat for even an adult human. Finally, your virtual assistant recognizes your voice and also can be customized for the voices of members of your household on separate accounts, which would allow your spouse to request their own calendar information, a song on their own favorite playlist, or news from their favorite outlet. When set to Pretty Please mode, Google Assistant can teach manners by only complying with a request after someone has asked nicely.
At this point, Google probably knows more about most of us than we would ever want to believe. Through Android phones, calendars and Google search on our laptops, PCs and tablets, Google can track our likes and dislikes, our purchases, who our friends are, our social media habits and a dizzying array of other things. While many might view this as a mixed blessing, it can make some aspects of our lives easier. Making payments is one of them.
Thanks to this feature, you can repay a debt or request money from a friend. To get started, you need to set up a Google Pay account. Then, get your Google Assistant’s attention and make the request. For example, “Hey Google, pay Bella $20 for breakfast.” As long as Bella is also signed up with Google Pay, the money will be whisked away to her in seconds without you ever needing to know her account information.
Not sure if you’re ready to start accepting or receiving payments? Don’t worry, Google will prompt you to input the initial data if you haven’t done so already. Before you know it, you can say hello to fast money transactions and goodbye to frustration and unpaid debts.
While it’s in its early stages, it’s possible small business owners might one day choose to forego the use of their credit card payment processing system in favor of accepting an electronic assistant payment. The obvious drawbacks include the need for both the customer and business owner to be aligned with accounts, as well as the fact that using and accepting credit cards or digital wallets on today’s modern payment readers is already an easy and ingrained process.
You can download and use Google Assistant on your Apple or Android phone. Like all electronic personal assistants, it may not be able to provide all the services you would need from a human personal secretary, but it can simplify some tasks and be fun to use as you see where the future is heading.