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07 July 2017

Why Google Assistant is my new favorite iPhone app

Let’s face it: Most voice assistants are still too dumb be useful in everyday life. Siri is an abomination, and even Alexa can’t answer some of the most basic questions that I ask. Luckily for me, Google Assistant has gotten ridiculously smart in the past year, and it’s legitimately changed my life since I’ve started using it.

Google Assistant wasn’t always great, and it wasn’t even widely available until recently. When the search giant launched its artificially intelligent assistant back in May 2015, it was exclusively available for the company’s own Pixel phone. 

Google didn’t even give other Android phone makers like Samsung and LG access to the app. If you didn’t have a Pixel phone, you were simply out of luck.

But things finally changed for the better about a month ago. This May at Google I/O, the company finally announced it was releasing the app on Android’s chief rival, iOS. 

Safe to say most iPhone fans didn’t notice or hated the experience. Our very own reporter Karissa Bell detailed the ridiculous issues she faced when using the app shortly after launch. Even my first few experiences testing the app were grim — but I vowed to check back in every week or so to see if I could find new uses for it. What I’ve learned in the ensuing month is that Google Assistant for iOS is practically the only app I need.

Google Assistant has straight up improved my quality of life. The first time I discovered just how useful it could be, I was riding my bike. It was pretty late, and I may or may not have had some adult beverages, and I was trying to navigate an unfamiliar part of Brooklyn. I remember belligerently opening the app and asking, “How do i get home?”

The app heroically pulled up directions to my apartment across town, and with the push of a button, it launched Google Maps, and I was soon biking in the right direction, safely in my own bike lane. Phew. Huge save by the assistant.

Then it saved me in a pinch again. The second time it was earlier in the morning, and I was running behind schedule as I got ready. I asked my phone what was on my calendar, and pulled up a preview of my events with — crucially — with the locations of each of the events.

One of the events happened to be a fancier outing for my gaudy friend who was throwing himself a birthday. The evening was starting at a hotel bar. Woof. Not only was I surprised, I had to change and basically revaluate my plans for the day. No bag. No sneakers. Another crucial save chalked up to Google Assistant.

That’s when I was sold.

The reality is that these apps are made for people who are completely disorganized, overwhelmed with the realities of being an adult, and need constant prodding to stay on course. They’re for weaklings — and unfortunately, I fall right into that target demographic. I can’t say it’s the best looking or most fun app that I use, but it’s finally starting to work exactly as its designers intended. It helps me course-correct, and for that reason, it’s my new favorite app on the iPhone.

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