Google to push AI smarts to iPhone, new photo books service

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(Bloomberg) -- Google's artificial intelligence software is already inside Android phones, smart speakers and watches. At the Google I/O conference this week, the Alphabet Inc. unit plans to bring it to at least three more places: iPhones, coffee tables and kitchens.

The Mountain View, California-based company is set to announce a version of its AI-powered assistant for Apple Inc.'s iPhone as soon as Wednesday, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Google's voice-based Assistant, unveiled at last year's I/O and released in the fall, competes with Apple's Siri and Inc.'s Alexa. It is set to land on the iPhone as a free, standalone app that can be downloaded from Apple's App Store, according to the person. It would arrive first in the U.S., but Google is working on adding support for other countries in the future.

Like the Assistant on Google's own Pixel smartphones, the iPhone version will take commands via voice, the person said. The difference is that it won't come pre-installed on the iPhone, a potential barrier to wide adoption. Still, the Assistant app will integrate with other Google apps on the iPhone so a user could ask to see a video and it will begin playing via YouTube.

Google's AI will show up in other new products this week. The company's popular Photos app will be upgraded with a feature for creating physical coffee table photo books, according to the person familiar. Last year, Google upgraded the AI software supporting Photos so the service could automatically create albums by combining relevant and related images.

Users will be able to order physical, printed books of pictures from the Photos app to be shipped to their homes, the person said. Google plans to offer multiple types of book materials for the service, with one option costing $10 per book, the person added. Apple, in the past, offered a similar service for its iPhoto application on Mac computers, but the company discontinued the feature about a year ago. It's available on the company's newer Photos app.

Google is another big rival for Shutterfly Inc., which offers a digital photo storage service, photo books and calendars. When Amazon launched a competing offering last year, Shutterfly shares slumped more than 10 percent in a day. On Tuesday, Shutterfly stock dropped as much as 4.8 percent to $49.33, the most in more than three months.

Google is also integrating its Assistant into GE home appliances such as refrigerators, dishwashers, ovens, washers and dryers. Users will be able to ask the Assistant how many cleaning pods are left in the dishwasher, or tell it to pre-heat the oven to 350F, or ask if the laundry is clean.

News website Android Police earlier reported that Google's Assistant will be coming to the iPhone. A Google spokeswoman declined to comment.

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