- Google debuted a feature for its voice-enabled Google Assistant that lets users compare services from companies like Uber or Lyft, per CNet. The feature will be available to users of a Google Home device, Android phone or the Google Assistant app on an iPhone.
- The app version of Google Assistant will show information from popular ride-hailing services, including wait times and price comparisons. After users choose a service, Google will open the ride-hailing service's app to complete the transaction.
- The ride-hailing feature is being rolled out gradually, and may not be immediately available for some customers, per CNBC. The feature initially is available in English, and works internationally with 18 different ride-hailing services.
Service and product comparisons are a natural extension for users of Google search, with this news showing how Google can leverage its digital assistant and voice technology to potentially create a more convenient experience for consumers. As CNet notes, Google's flight search feature is similar in providing price comparisons for airlines.
For companies like Uber and Lyft, the Google Assistant's ride-hailing comparison feature may help to drive downloads of their apps as users get to see more information about the nearest or least expensive services. Dedicated Uber customers, for example, may decide to check out a rival service that seems more convenient. As seen in other segments of the travel industry, ride-sharing companies may need to boost loyalty incentives to keep customers coming back to the same service.
Google and Amazon are vying for customers of connected devices such as voice-enabled smart speakers. Google's likely product introductions next week come several weeks after Amazon debuted its latest voice-controlled devices. The e-commerce giant's new Echo products integrate its Alexa voice assistant in customers' lives, giving marketers new and expanded opportunities to reach them at every point of their day-to-day routine. Amazon said Alexa now offers stereo pairing, new music notifications, e-mail management, step-by-step cooking, location-based Routines, better smart home monitoring and more entertainment features.
Google's ride-hailing features for its Google Assistant come as the search giant prepares to introduce new products on Oct. 9, just in time for the key holiday shopping season. The search giant earlier this week introduced software tools for Assistant that will help marketers offer voice-based experiences that are more engaging and personalized for customers, per a blog post. A wider variety of voice-enabled apps helps to boost the value proposition of smart speakers and other connected devices.