Addressing an audience of thousands of developers in Mountain View, California, Google executives delivered a broad-based update to their product portfolio which also included a slate of new features for the Google Home speaker, a job search tool and even a set of new virtual reality headsets.
In a sign of the ongoing strategic importance of Google Assistant, the company's artificial intelligence-driven, voice-controlled digital assistant, Google announced it would make the product available on Apple Inc's iPhone, making a play for the higher end of the smartphone market and challenging Apple's Siri feature on its own devices.
What's more, the assistant will soon be able to complete transactions and supply information about objects captured by the smartphone's camera, executives said.
But several analysts noted that the emphasis on the assistant and other apps like photos and maps, which run on many types of devices, resulted in the company's Android operating system -- long the cornerstone of Google's mobile strategy -- getting relatively little attention during the presentation.
That reflects a recognition by the search giant that the assistant and other apps will be increasingly important to its future, said analyst Jan Dawson of Jackdaw Research. The strategy helps the company sidestep some of the complications of developing new features for the vast Android ecosystem, where only a fraction of devices are running on the latest version of the operating system, he noted.
"This is partly a concession to the fact that whatever they put into Android, most users don't see it for a couple years ... and a lot of their best, most attractive, most valuable users are going to be on other platforms," Dawson said. "They need to put that functionality where users are."
The Google Assistant debuted last year on the company's own hardware, and Google has gradually extended the tool to devices from other manufacturers running on its Android operating system.
Google, Microsoft, Apple and Amazon.com Inc are competing to establish the dominant voice-powered digital assistant, which many in the industry believe will supplant keyboards and touch screens as a primary way that users interact with technology.
The company is also gaining traction with its photo app, which now reaches 500 million users regularly, Pichai said. To drive greater usage of the app, Google will now make suggestions to prod users to share images and allow them to order physical photo albums.
Pichai also announced the company will expand its search engine with a new jobs tab that will allow candidates to filter postings by criteria such as wages and commute time.