Google Assistant to make buying stuff easier, just by asking – CNET

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Google I/O, the search giant’s annual developer conference, announced that developers can add transactions to its Assistant digital helper.

Screenshot by Joan E. Solsman/CNET

Google Assistant, the company’s digital helper, will start letting you order and buy things, thanks to an update to the tools Google makes available to developers.

The search giant unveiled the new transaction features at Google I/O, its annual conference collecting the legion of developers who work on the farflung corners of its empire. The three-day event is expected to bring updates about Google’s mobile operating system Android, web browser Chrome, smart speaker Google Home, and a slew of other products and services — setting the agenda of Google’s priorities for the rest of the year.

Valerie Nygaard, product manager on Assistant, announced the new transaction tool — called an “action” for developers — that would enable payments, identification, notifications, receipts and account creation, all aimed to be conducted by Assistant’s trademark conversational voice requests.

She walked through a demonstration of ordering from sandwich shop Panera. Without having to start a new account with the merchant, enter an address or credit card or install something new, she ordered a salad and lemonade, by speaking responses to common prompts (“How about one of these cold drinks?”) from Assistant and swiping through carousels of options.

“Super easy, like I was talking to someone at a store,” she said.

Assistant pulled possible addresses and stored credit-card details from information she previously registered with the company.

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