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Google Assistant standalone iPhone app could launch as soon as Google I/O

Google will soon allow iPhone and iPad owners use the search company's latest digital assistant, according to a report, with a standalone iOS app for Google Assistant claimed to be launched in the near future, possibly as part of an announcement during the Google I/O developer conference later this week.




The app will be restricted to just the United States at launch, according to sources of Android Police, and though the launch plans for the app are said to be "unclear," the announcement will apparently take place soon. It is believed Google I/O would be an ideal venue to launch the app, due to the release of the Assistant SDK to developers late last month.

A launch on iOS could be an attempt by Google to encourage developers to use the SDK and integrate their own iOS apps with Google Assistant.

Google initially launched Google Assistant, its next-generation artificial intelligence tool, as part of the Allo messaging app released last year. The "preview edition" of Assistant allowed users to interact with the messaging bot, providing responses to queries within the Allo app as part of a conversational thread.

It is likely for the standalone app to offer similar chat-based functionality to the Allo version, but could also include voice-based queries in a similar way to the existing Google search app. Due to Apple's control over the iOS architecture, users will not be able to replace Siri with Google Assistant, and will probably need to enter the app in order to perform verbal requests.

Google product management director Gummi Hafsteinsson hinted at the possibility of Google Assistant appearing on iOS in March at Mobile World Congress. While not having "anything to announce" at the time, Hafsteinsson suggested "I think the general philosophy is that we would like to have the Assistant available to as many people as possible."

Google Assistant is considered to be more advanced than the existing Google Voice Search tool, due to being able to interpret context within a conversational-style query, such as follow-up questions. For example, asking "How old is he" after the query "Who is the President of the United States" would provide the President's age in Google Assistant, whereas competitors typically treat each individual statement as a separate query.

Apple has not stood still with Siri, Google Assistant's main competition, with a string of machine learning and language processing acquisitions suggesting there could be a major upgrade to Siri coming as part of the next major iOS update. Last year, Apple opened up the digital assistant to third-party developers with the release of an SDK, enabling apps to perform actions based on Siri queries, such as payments and sending messages.