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G Suite gets an AI boost with Google Assistant beta

Cloud giant adds voice commands, automated text suggestions and more to its enterprise suite

The G Suite logo displayed on a smartphone

Google has added Google Assistant capabilities into G Suite as part of a number of betas the cloud giant has unveiled at its Next 19 event.

Users will be able to use voice commands to carry out a number of functions across G Suite using voice commands. 

For example, in the Calendar app the Google Assistant can respond to commands asking it to check, add, change and delete entries and events; a potentially useful function for people looking to update their calendar while on the move.

In other areas of G Suite, the integration of the Google Assistant means users can use commands such as "Hey Google, join my next meeting" to be automatically dialled into a meeting, while the AI-powered virtual assistant can also be told to email meeting attendees if the user is running late. 

While the integration does not extend to the Hangouts Meet app yet, it does allow for the Asus Hangouts Meet hardware kit - a suite of hardware to provide 'one-touch' Hangouts Meet video conferencing - to work with user voice commands for joining or leaving a meeting, and to make a phone call through the hardware. 

Google also added smart and AI-powered features into Hangout Meet and Google Docs.  Soon Hangouts Meet features will also be extended to Gmail, where users can start video chats without leaving the application. This is all part of an efficiency push within G Suite to streamline the user experience.

"Next year Gmail will enable you to jump on quick calls without scheduling one. We are calling it the meet experience in Gmail," said Ulrike Gupta, a customer engineer at Google Cloud.

Last year the company added 'Smart Compose' to Gmail, where AI features offer up automated responses to complete sentences within a message. This is now available for Google Docs, in beta; according to Google, Smart Compose has already saved people from typing more than two billion characters each week.

By harnessing Google's neural network-powered AI technology, Smart Compose will also be used to spot grammatical and spelling errors. As it will use aggregate textual data at its beta stage, Smart Compose will learn a user's style and common word use, effectively improving over time. However, some companies might not be comfortable with this data being collected and processed so may wish to opt-out of the beta. 

Smart Compose autocorrect functions will also tap into the power of Google Search to ensure that the words and phrases being used are up-to-date with the latest parlance. 

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