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A Smarter Google Assistant to Offer 6 New Voices

Google Assistant becomes smarter, to get six new voices

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Google's new Search feature gives single result to certain queries. Pixabay

Making the competition in Artificial Intelligence (AI)-powered assistants space tougher, Google on Tuesday announced that people will soon have a choice of choosing from six voices, including one of musician John Legend, to talk to “Google Assistant”.

At its annual developer conference Google I/O, the company said these six options, which feature both male and female voices, would be rolled out later this year.

Company CEO Sundar Pichai said that Google has been working on newer and more life-like version of its spoken AI that features natural voice that is “closer to how humans speak.”

The improvements include more natural pauses “that have meaning” and other subtleties to help create a “more natural dialogue” with Assistant.

This new version of the Assistant is built on a tech machine learning technology called Wavenet, which the company started building out some 18 months ago.

Now instead of having to say “Hey Google” or “OK Google” every time to give a command, users only have to do this one time and then have a conversation with the Assistant.

Google calls this feature “continued conversation” and it’ll roll out in the coming week.

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Google. Pixabay

The new powerful Assistant can now distinguish between two sentences that are joined by “and” and can reply with two different query-specific answers in one go.

The tech giant wants to bundle its voice assistant into every device and app and is bringing Google Assistant in Google Maps. It’ll be available on iOS and Android this summer.

Users can now share estimated time of arrival with their contacts without touching the device.

Further, the Assistant would soon be able make calls for you to make reservations at restaurants or salons.

It would also teach children to use polite language when interacting with the Google Assistant’s “Pretty Please feature. When kids say “Please” during a command, they would receive thanks from the virtual assistant in response.

Google says that “Pretty Please” feature would launch later this year.

The company also brought Assistant-powered Smart Displays. These devices would be launched in July.

Also Read: Google CEO Sundar Pichai on Tech: ‘Deep Responsibility to get This Right’

Pichai also showcased a revamped Gmail and announced another new feature called “Smart Compose,” which will help users write emails using machine learning technology.

As you type, Smart Compose pops up suggestions about what you might want to write next – similar to Google autocomplete.

“As the name suggests, we use machine learning to start suggesting phrases for you. All you have to do is hit tab to keep auto-completing. In this case, it understands the subject is ataco Tuesday.’ It takes care of mundane things like addresses so you can focus on what you want to type,” Pichai explained. (IANS)

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EU Fines Google $1.7 bn for Unfair Online Ad Rules

This meant that publishers were prohibited from placing any search adverts from competitors on their search results pages

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The Google name is displayed outside the company's office in London, Britain. VOA

The European Union’s antitrust regulators on Wednesday fined Google 1.49 billion euros ($1.7 billion) for abusing its dominance in the online search market by blocking rivals.

Google has abused its market dominance by imposing a number of restrictive clauses in contracts with third-party websites which prevented Google’s rivals from placing their search adverts on these websites, the European Commission (EC) said in a statement.

“Today the Commission has fined Google 1.49 billion euros for illegal misuse of its dominant position in the market for the brokering of online search adverts,” EC Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said.

It is the third EU fine for Google in just two years.

“Google has cemented its dominance in online search adverts and shielded itself from competitive pressure by imposing anti-competitive contractual restrictions on third-party websites. This is illegal under EU antitrust rules,” Vestager said.

The Commission said the fine which is equivalent to 1.29 per cent of Google’s turnover in 2018 takes account of the duration and gravity of the infringement.

“The misconduct lasted over 10 years and denied other companies the possibility to compete on the merits and to innovate – and consumers the benefits of competition,” Vestager said.

Websites such as newspaper websites, blogs or travel sites aggregators often have a search function embedded.

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Google CEO Sundar Pichai speaks at the Google I/O conference in Mountain View, California.

When a user searches using this search function, the website delivers both search results and search adverts, which appear alongside the search result.

Through AdSense for Search, Google provides these search adverts to owners of “publisher” websites.

Google is an intermediary, like an advertising broker, between advertisers and website owners that want to profit from the space around their search results pages.

Therefore, AdSense for Search works as an online search advertising intermediation platform.

Also Read- Samsung to Launch its First 5G Smartphone in Market in April

Google was by far the strongest player in online search advertising intermediation in the European Economic Area (EEA), with a market share above 70 per cent from 2006 to 2016.

Google’s provision of online search advertising intermediation services to the most commercially important publishers took place via agreements that were individually negotiated.

The Commission reviewed hundreds of such agreements in the course of its investigation and found that starting in 2006, Google included exclusivity clauses in its contracts.

This meant that publishers were prohibited from placing any search adverts from competitors on their search results pages, the European Commission said. (IANS)