Google Assistant Removes Friction in Workspace

The Google Suite, now branded as Google Workspace, has been the linchpin of the remote working experience for many businesses. As workers depend on Google Meets, Docs, Drive, and more, the tech company has started to reframe its tech products as extensions of the workplace — in December, Zoom meetings arrived on the Nest Hub Max. However, with Microsoft’s Cortana assistant playing a leading role in Microsoft 365 products, and as Alexa for Business makes headway in the productivity world, Google’s suite of work applications and Google Assistant have largely been separate. This week, the Google Assistant mobile app is changing that and announced that it is embedding Google Workspace features, positioning it as a more powerful tool in the productivity space. As WFH persists into the foreseeable future, the major tech companies are spending time defining valuable experiences where voice assistants can remove friction for workers. 

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Assistant Joins the Meeting

Google Workspace recently integrated Google Assistant into the productivity platform. Consumers can use the voice assistant on their mobile phones — the feature is still in beta on smart displays and speakers — to check their calendar, join meetings, and send messages. In addition, the Nest Hub Max can be used as a second screen for video chats. Microsoft has already shifted Cortana to its own productivity suite, but as remote work begins to look like a permanent fixture, Google is making moves to ensure its own popular work applications are paired with the benefits of the Assistant. More on Engadget

Xbox Gets Alexa Features

Amazon released a new Alexa app for Xbox that allows players to control Alexa-enabled devices with the gaming console. The new Alexa app transforms the Xbox and its connected TV display into voice-enabled products. Players can still use commands to launch games and toggle power (as they could with the original Xbox Alexa Skill), but can also now listen to music, view email and calendars, and even control devices including the smart doorbell via the Xbox and TV screen. These advanced Alexa capabilities highlight how Amazon is further establishing itself as the assistant of choice in the smart home. More on GeekWire

Flipkart Doubles Down on Voice

Flipkart, the Walmart-owned Indian e-commerce retailer, has expanded voice search on its Android app and website to support around 150 million items. Last June, the company introduced its mobile assistant to help customers explore deals, add items to their cart, and check out with voice, but the capabilities were limited to grocery products. The new feature is available in both English and Hindi and brings users to the most relevant item according to their search phrase. As Indian consumers continue to strengthen their use of voice technology, companies like Flipkart are elevating their customer experiences to meet their expectations. More on Voicebot.ai

Emerging Tech Stories

  • Voice Ordering. Fast food chains like McDonald’s and White Castle are leveraging voice technology to take customer orders at the drive thru.
  • Audio Influencers. Newly formed consultancy Audio Collective is helping audio creators and big brands expand their audio presence on social apps like Clubhouse.
  • Mixed Reality. Microsoft’s new Mesh platform powers mixed reality experiences that allow people in different locations to collaborate in a shared AR/VR holographic space.

Stats Don’t Lie

80% of business professionals are seriously considering using custom wake words in their voice strategies. (data via Opus Research & SoundHound)

2.5 Billion The number of installed voice assistant devices in the world. (data via Moonshot)

Chart of the Week

(Opus Research)