Google Assistant has historically relied on cloud-based services to recognize your voice and respond to your requests. But Google says it’s managed to shrink its voice recognition model to about 500MB, allowing it to be stored on a phone for on-device processing.

Since there’s no round-trip to the cloud required, that means Google Assistant can recognize and respond to your voice much more quickly.

In a live demo at Google I/O today, Google showed a Google Assistant responding nearly instantly to dozens of requests.

Among other things, that means opening apps, taking selfies, responding to incoming messages, composing emails, getting directions, or searching through photos.

Continued Conversation support means that you don’t need to say “OK Google” before every request. If you already opened Google Assistant to view your calendar, for example, you can then just ask it to add an reminder or start composing a message.

Some actions will also work even if you’re offline, such as toggling your flashlight or viewing your calendar.

Other announcements from Google I/O so far include:

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5 replies on “Google Assistant is getting up to 10x faster thanks to on-device language processing”

  1. Wow, we finally get back a feature that Jellbean had! Offline Dictation!

    1. It’s not even remotely the same. Pixel phones have had the latest speech-to-text software from Google for a few months now, and the improvement in speed and accuracy is incredible. Seeing your words in a lengthy dictation appearing on your screen with barely a mistake in near real time is very impressive.

  2. I wonder how difficult it would be to put a physical off switch in my phone for the microphone. I would just have to remember to turn it on to talk on the phone.

    1. Your phone specifically? Likely nearly impossible (but maybe you’ll get lucky with your particular device). If you can, there are still likely a few parts you might permanently break in the process. But there are plenty of ways to add external mics to phones that you can disconnect (e.g. headsets.) and you could use those if you were to simply remove or destroy the built in mics.
      But if you want a new phone with integrated physical kill switches, there’s the Librem 5 and Pinephone, and not much else as far as I know.

      1. What about rooting your device, and installing a software “off switch” instead?

        It could be a toggle placed in the Notification Shade.

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