Google I/O was awash with Assistant news, but Duplex mystery aside, Continued Conversation was easily one of the most compelling announcements of the bunch. The feature is an attempt to bring more naturalized conversation to the AI — a kind of holy grail with these sorts of smart assistants.
Continued Conversation is rolling out to Assistant today for users in the U.S. with a Home, Home Mini and Home Max. The optional setting is designed to offer a more natural dialogue, so users don’t have to “Hey Google” Assistant every time they have a request. Google offers the following example in a blog post that just went up,
So next time you wake up and the skies are grey, just ask “Hey Google, what’s the weather today?”… “And what about tomorrow?”… “Can you add a rain jacket to my shopping list”… “And remind me to bring an umbrella tomorrow morning”…“Thank you!”
You’ll need to access the Assistant settings on an associated device in order to activate the feature. And that initial “Ok Google” or “Hey Google” will still have to be spoken to trigger the Assistant. From there, it will stay listening for up to eight seconds without detecting any speech. It’s not exactly a dialogue, so much as a way of easing the awkward interaction of having to repeat the same command over and over again.
Given all of the recent privacy concerns that have arisen as smart speakers and the like have exploded in popularity, it’s easy to see why Google’s gone and taken all of these safeguards to assure users that the devices aren’t listening for anything beyond a wake word.
An extra eight seconds isn’t much, but those who are already skeptical about product privacy might want to keep it off, for good measure.