NOT CONTENT with shoving John Legend in our faces, Google looks to be bringing adverts to Google Assistant in its quest to provide us with richer (ie more lucrative) answers to our burning questions.
An update to Android phones will bring more 'visual' answers to the innominate interloper, pulling pictures and other visual cues from the Google Graph.
Google says this value-added content will give more precise answers and therefore reduce the need to ask endless follow-up questions.
For example, if you ask it for the latest voting intention polls, it might give you a graph with a trend. If you ask for a broad category like ‘TV comedies of the 1970s' it will give you thumbnails of a range of specific examples so you can drill down.
Additionally, you'll be able to access a calendar style view of events, so saying "Show me what's on in London this weekend" will bring up a calendar that includes thumbnails, click-throughs and even bookmarking.
It will also be able to bring up some of its tools in contextual situations - say the currency converter if you are looking for something on a foreign shopping site, for example.
But as we always say, the Alphabet Castle giveth and the Alphabet Castle taketh away. This time, hidden away in the announcement is the first hint that we could start to see promoted results (ie advertising) in searches. Specifically, if Google Assistant answers a question with some search results, you're probably going to start seeing some of the adverts that would have appeared in a conventional Google search for those terms.
It was inevitable (Amazon Alexa has been dabbling in this for years) but still definitely something to beware of.
The update is already rolling out to Android users, along with a slight facelift, but there's no sign of it arriving on right now, which makes a nice change as Google has had a habit of launching things there first recently. µ
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