Google’s Conversational Search Gets Smarter, Adds OpenTable Integration

Google’s conversational search is a great example of how well the company can handle natural language queries. It’s not just about the initial search (“How old is Barack Obama?”), though, but also about the follow-up, which means the service has to be able to understand pronouns and the keywords they relate to (“Where was he born?“).

Today, Google is updating its mobile apps with an even smarter version of conversational search that includes, among other things, support for making OpenTable reservations.

newcolorsIt’s pulling in more information about you now than ever before (in large parts thanks to Google Now), so you can now ask it things like “Ok Google, show me restaurants near my hotel” and the service will know — because it has seen your hotel confirmation pop up in Gmail — where exactly you are staying.

From there, you can now also ask it to show you the menu at a given restaurant and then make a reservation with a simple voice command: “Ok Google, reserve a table there at 7pm tonight.” Google will then pop up a pre-filled form for an OpenTable reservation (assuming the restaurant takes OpenTable and hasn’t blocked the 7 p.m. slot for patrons who make phone reservations) and off you go.

Depending on how you feel about Google — and Google Now in particular — this is either a really cool or a really creepy feature. I’ve gotten pretty used to Google Now showing me my flight details, hotel reservations and OpenTable bookings on my Android Wear, for example, and adding this information to conversational search is a logical next step. It sure makes for a very personalized search experience (even though I’m still pretty hesitant to use voice search in public for some reason).