Alongside the bigger news that there will be “smart display” Google Assistant speakers, Google is also announcing that Assistant is going to work in Android Auto. That might be a little confusing to people who have been using Android Auto, because they’ve been saying “OK Google” and issuing commands for directions and music for over a year now.
The difference, you see, is that before it was simply a Google Voice search. Going forward, it will be the actual Google Assistant.
Functionally, the difference is that a bunch of stuff that only Google Assistant can do will be possible in your car now. It can support actions like controlling your home lights, it will respect your music preferences (like defaulting to Spotify for music), and so on.
Google’s been putting more emphasis on Actions and how they’re becoming easier to use. In a demo ahead of CES, the company was particularly eager to preview the ability to reserve a parking spot and to order Starbucks directly with Google Assistant.
Truthfully, most people will be largely doing the same things with Google Assistant in Android Auto that they were doing before: asking for directions, responding to text messages, and the like. The main difference will mostly come down to the fact that the little Google Assistant bubbles will show up sometimes. Did you know that inside Google, the employees sometimes call those bubbles “the poodle?” It’s true! It looks like half a poodle, I guess, if you squint. Also, if you say “Hey Poodle” instead of “Hey Google” is mostly works about half the time — and it’s a lot more fun to say.