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Trainline unveils voice-activated rail app for Google Assistant

Train ticket retailer and travel app Trainline has launched a voice service for Google Assistant, US internet giant's artificial intelligence engine.
Aimed at easing the commuting experience, the app lets rail travellers ask a range of everyday questions about their journeys and provides them with real-time updates such as timetables.

The voice-activated Trainline service is available on eligible Android phones, although users can also access it through the Assistant app on iOS and on devices such as Google Home.

Trainline is looking to make assessing information on the move easier, combining its experience in travel technology with Google's conversational AI platform.
Image credit: V3
Trainline CIO Mark Holt told Computing in May that the development of the app was started by engineers at the company over a weekend earlier this year. 
According to the company, the app is capable of handling "deep conversational complexity" and answering twelve layers of questioning. Not only can users talk to the app, but they can also make requests such as "I'd like to take a train A and B on date A".

They can then follow up with questions to get more clarity on the booking. For instance, users can ask who the train operator is and what the weather will be like on the date of travel.

Rail commuters who use the app on a daily basis can get it to recognise their commuting patterns from regular places, including their homes. It also has a plethora of other smart features, including notifications on real-time delays.

 "Trainline's voice app can help simplify people's lives. It's easier to talk to a service to get quick answers on a journey, when users are unable to type into their device," the firm explained on its choice to go AI.

"For the times that users are driving, while using their phones hands-free, walking, cooking or even wearing gloves, talking to Trainline helps to make accessing this information more seamless."

The app is relatively easy to use, Trainline claims. Users fire it up by asking "Okay Google, talk to Trainline", and it'll load up.

However, you can also say something like "Okay Google, ask Trainline how my journey home is looking" to get specific information. The company said that it would implement more features over time.

Dave Slocombe, product director at Trainline, said: "Trainline's voice app is the latest in a long line of innovations that make this possible. We're proud to have worked with Google and its powerful new Assistant platform on the creation of voice capabilities that can deliver complex travel information in a quick, simple and personal way."

Alice Zimmermann, global product partnerships at Google, said: "It's a pleasure to work with the Trainline team to innovate for travellers using conversational intelligence.

"The Google Assistant is all about helping people get things done more seamlessly with conversation. Trainline's voice app can make your commute or journey even easier; we want rail travellers to be able to get real-time updates when they need them, especially ahead of the festive season."
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