Google Assistant passes 500 million users, will get longform reading and deeper smart home integration in 2020

Google Assistant is now used by 500 million monthly active users, and today Google is previewing features on the way in 2020 like a new voice that reads articles and web pages aloud to users with a more natural and humanlike voice. Later this year, saying “Hey Google, read it” or “Hey Google, read this page” will trigger the assistant to read or translate text from an article or webpage into 42 languages. In a story told in a VentureBeat exclusive, Google brought article and webpage reading to its lightweight Go app in August 2018.

Longform reading will begin with articles and websites but may expand to areas like reading your emails in the future, a company spokesperson told VentureBeat. Starting with Hisense and TCL televisions, Google Assistant is also coming to turned-off TVs, showcasing a range of new features today like a redesigned speed dial, sticky notes for smart displays, and new privacy-focused voice command. It’s all part of a range of announcements being made today at the start of the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas.

Google wants more TV manufacturers to install microphones for far-field voice recognition in order to make TV’s speakers function the same way a smart speaker works today, responding to voice commands to play music, check the weather, or ask a question. Google Nest smart displays today often share visual content in response to questions, but Google Assistant on televisions will act the same as a smart speaker, and only turn on the television if you say you want to watch a TV show or video content, a company spokesperson told VentureBeat.