Google Assistant Comes to iPhone, Adds More Powers

Google Assistant can now pop up on your iPhone, and it's bringing new powers with it. And pretty soon, the artificial intelligence-powered assistant could find its way onto a number of devices.

At its I/O Developer Conference, Google vice president of engineering Scott Huffman announced that Google Assistant would be available as an app for iOS devices starting today (May 17).

While Google didn't share many details as to how the app will work — presumably, you'll have to launch the app to use it instead of triggering it with your voice like you would on a Pixel — the move to the iPhone expands Google Assistant beyond the 100 million Android devices that currently support it.

MORE: 10 Siri Tips and Tricks Every iPhone User Should Know

If Google has its way, you'll soon be interacting with its Assistant on devices other than the iPhone, Android devices and the Google Home speaker. Google is releasing a new Assistant SDK that will let device makers put the assistant on "speakers, toys, drink-mixing robots, whatever crazy device you can think of," Huffman said.

Assistant is also gaining some new skills. The most impressive one will be integration with the newly unveiled Google Lens feature, which uses the camera on your phone to identify objects. That sounds a lot like the Bixby Vision feature Samsung is adding to its Galaxy S8 phone, but Google's adding its own twist on the feature, letting you act on Assistant's visual recognition prowess.

In a demo, Huffman talked about how Google Lens will let you point at the marquee of a theater hosting an upcoming concert. Google Assistant will be able to recognize the name of the band, and with a tap, you can perform actions like call up songs from that band, order tickets or add the concert to your calendar. Other features in Google Lens touted by CEO Sundar Pichai include the ability to pull up restaurant reviews by pointing your camera at an eatery or adding Wi-Fi login information via the camera.

While Google Assistant is primarily voice-powered, the phone version of the assistant will gain another input method. You'll be able to type queries for those times when you're out in public and don't want to speak your Google Assistant requests out loud.

Google plans to add support for more languages to Google Assistant. French, German, Brazilian Portuguese and Japanese are rolling out this summer. Italian, Spanish and Korean will arrive by the end of the year.

Google Assistant on the phone will also add support for Google Actions, which will let third parties integrate services into the assistant. To demo the feature, a Google rep used the Google Assistant to order food from Panera, using her voice to place the order and paying for it with a fingerprint through Google Pay.

Philip Michaels

Philip Michaels is a Managing Editor at Tom's Guide. He's been covering personal technology since 1999 and was in the building when Steve Jobs showed off the iPhone for the first time. He's been evaluating smartphones since that first iPhone debuted in 2007, and he's been following phone carriers and smartphone plans since 2015. He has strong opinions about Apple, the Oakland Athletics, old movies and proper butchery techniques. Follow him at @PhilipMichaels.