Google puts Wizard in its Android text messaging application, and it's pretty cool




Google Assistant lives at home and can have his own button on your phone. Now it's in your Android messages texting app, too. I've had a practical demonstration of how it works, here at MWC 2019 in Barcelona.

Every year, at the world's largest phone show, Google turns a concrete walkway between two congress center halls into a colorful, outdoor "gazebo" that draws viewers to the promise of comfortable seats and treats. This year, it included a juice bar designed to feature a transcription feature for hearing-impaired people and a café that featured Google Pay and this new assistant in the Android Messages demo.

The idea is that you "pay" for coffee and while you wait, you get the Wizard demonstration. It's a bit artificial, but the "coffee" was adorable in the most googley way. And the demo itself? Pretty cool, actually.

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The Google Messages Wizard for Android inserts information cards into your text feed.

Andrew Hoyle / CNET

Assistant for Android Messages is the latest example of Google's integration of AI to understand the context and anticipate what you want. AI may not be as sexy as foldable phones or the 5G, but it sinks quietly into almost any high-end phones thanks to the camera app and tools like this one. For Google, a robust AI engine is one more weapon in its arsenal against Alexa's assistant Alexa, Google's most important rival for an Artificial Intelligence ecosystem whose the real price is your smart home.

A member of the demonstration team, Alvaro, guided me through two phones with the new feature. He sent me a text message asking me if I wanted to see a movie. A bubble appeared at the bottom, a bit like a suggestion of text.

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My new friend Alvaro, who reviews the new function of sending SMS by Wizard.

Andrew Hoyle / CNET

Tap on it and you allow the assistant to insert an information card into the conversation. It's like part of a Google search result all presented to us. We could then both tap on it to see which movies are playing nearby (but not to buy tickets, not yet). I then sent a text message asking if he wanted to take a hypothetical dinner before our hypothetical issue, and another suggestion from the wizard came up to ask me if I wanted to search for nearby restaurants.

When you press this module, you can see local spots, pick one and send this information to the thread.

At the present time, Assistant for Android Messages only works with movies and restaurants, but you can easily see how this could extend to other aspects of everyday life.

What pleases me in life, is how natural it is and how much it saves time looking for information individually. It seemed more real-time, more collaborative and better for lazy researchers who did not want to let the warmth and comfort of the text messaging app to launch a separate search query. In the demo I had, it seemed convenient and unobtrusive.

It seems that Google Assistant for Android Messages is already available in 24 countries. If the conditions are right, you must have the appropriate combination of operator and phone. I'm trying to get a little more clarity on it, so support me.

The new wizard feature borrows elements from Google Allo, the messaging application for artificial intelligence, now gone, Google pushed hard for the phones before pulling the plug.

Mobile World Congress 2019

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