Google Assistant on smartphones gets a redesign

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Developers and brands now have tools to take full advantage of the phone screen. There are also improvements coming to Google sign-ins to make this process easier.

Google Assistant is one of the most ubiquitous and useful virtual assistants in the world.

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The redesigned app includes a bunch of other perks, such as bigger visuals and animations, new controls and sliders to help you manage the smart gadgets in your home, and an interactive messaging interface that will support quick editing. With the latest makeover, Google wants Assistant to be easier to control "whether you prefer to use your hands, your voice, or a combination of the two". It's easier to edit messages with touch when you're dictating conversations over Assistant. Developers and brands can start putting Assistant and its custom results to work for them. New thumbnails allow Starbucks, for instance, to showcase select items on its menu. Food Network has bigger images to show off recipes. Developers will also be able to monetize Actions on Google now.

Google Assistant is pretty handy when it comes to using your voice, but sometimes the user interface on the software side can feel a little clunky to use. A Google Pay account is required to finalize the purchase, though. The timing is not coincidental; the Pixel 3 arrives next week and is expected to usher in the best of Google in both hardware and software. You can subscribe to the premium version of the services by voice and choose between plans. Once you link an Action to your account, it will remember your preferences and purchases. The refreshed client, available for both Android and iPhone, combines voice and touch-based elements to deliver a more intuitive experience that also closely resembles the other apps getting UI overhauls.