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Mind How You Talk to Your AI

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Google wants you to have natural conversations with your virtual assistant.

Your Google Assistant is growing up! Click To Tweet

The Google Assistant team was at Cannes this week talking about their work with creative agencies and brands to extend experiences to the platform – which we recently took for a spin here on Tech Trends when reviewing the latest Google Mini. And while there, the team also announced that one of the features  Google had announced during this year’s I/O Continued Conversation has just gone live.

“One of the most important things we learn as children is how to communicate with each other. We start with “goo goos and gaa gaas,” then on to baby sign language, a few simple words like “momma,” and our conversations get more complex from there.”

With Continued Conversation turned on, after you ask the Assistant a question, you can ask a follow-up without having to preface each command or question with 'Hey Google' Click To Tweet

You’ll still need to activate your Assistant devices with “Ok Google,” “Hey Google,” or with a physical trigger, but with this new optional setting turned on, the Assistant will stay active for long enough to respond to follow up questions so you don’t have to say “Hey Google” as often. You can say “thank you” or “stop” once you’re done, or just stay quiet and wait for the assistant to detect you’re no longer talking to it.

“For the Google Assistant to have a natural conversation, it should be able to understand when it’s being spoken to and should be capable of responding to several requests during an interaction. We’re taking another step forward in making your interactions with the Google Assistant more natural with Continued Conversation, available starting today on Google Home, Google Home Mini and Google Home Max.”

We’ve heard from a lot of people that adding 'Hey Google' before each follow-up question for the Assistant doesn’t feel as natural as they’d like Click To Tweet

With this update, your conversations with Google Assistant are more natural and intuitive than they’ve ever been Click To Tweet

This feature will initially only be available in English and in the US. To enable it, all users (new or existing) need to access the Assistant Settings for their devices:

Assistant Settings > Preferences > Continued Conversation

(this will apply to all speakers that the primary account user has set up)

The Assistant stays active for 8 seconds at most if it does not detect any speech. If it does detect speech it will remain active until it determines the user is done talking. While it is active the LEDs remain illuminated to let you know it’s listening, and if you’re unsure you can review all your interactions with your Assistant any time by looking at My Activity.

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!”

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Alice Bonasio is a VR and Digital Transformation Consultant and Tech Trends’ Editor in Chief. She also regularly writes for Fast Company, Ars Technica, Quartz, Wired and others. Connect with her on LinkedIn and follow @alicebonasio on Twitter.