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Time Out launches conversational app on the Google Assistant

The conversational app enables users to discover the best things to do in London, say the publishers.

Time Out launches conversational app on the Google Assistant

Starting yesterday, users can “Talk to Time Out” to get inspiration for a night out or the weekend ahead, making it easier than ever to decide where to take your date, get your culture fix, or what to explore, says Time Out.

To access this content via the Time Out conversational app, users can say “Talk to Time Out” on the Google Assistant to start a “fun and engaging” two-way conversation. The Google Assistant is available on eligible Android phones, iOS and voice-activated speakers like Google Home.

Questions to Time Out might include, “Ask Time Out what I should do tonight?”, “Are there any Christmas markets?”, “I want to go ice skating,” “What’s a good theatre show this week?”, “Where should I go on a date?”, “What’s a great restaurant to go to tonight?”, or, “Surprise me.”

According to Time Out, the app not only gives users instant recommendations, based on Time Out editors’ hand-picked things to do. It allows anyone to have a conversation with ‘their best friend in the city’, with a lot of local flavour and Time Out’s signature personality built into the dialogue. The creators of the conversation also hid serendipitous gems into the experience to bring this playful tone of voice to life (such as asking the app, “Where are you from?” or “What’s the word on the street?”). To make sure the app is seamless and helpful, Time Out has worked closely with Google to design a conversation that can address users’ expectations in different contexts. The smart design is built on Google’s Dialogflow, which uses machine learning and natural language processing to understand voice and conversational input in a natural way.

Time Out launched its first magazine in 1968, and its website over 20 years ago. Now the Google Assistant project is another exciting platform development for Time Out to reach an experience-hungry audience of millions of Android phone, iPhone and Google Home users.

To drive awareness as well as initial and repeated use of Time Out's conversational app on the Google Assistant, a joint cross-platform campaign will launch on December 1 across Time Out London's video, social, digital and print channels.

In December, cross-platform content will accompany the launch as Time Out London Social Media Editor Rosie Percy is taking to the streets, armed with a Pixel 2. Talking to Time Out on the Google Assistant, she will be guided on a spontaneous adventure through London based on editorially curated recommendations- all captured in a video for Time Out's Facebook page and its 1.3 million followers. This will be followed by a double page spread advertorial in the Time Out London magazine on December 5 as well as a digital feature page on timeout.com/London. In January, the high-impact campaign will continue with a Time Out London magazine cover wrap celebrating the partnership, double spread advertorial features and ads, a digital feature package as well as digital and social traffic drivers across Time Out's channels. There will also be surprise moments and exclusive experiences hidden in the app as well as creative media firsts to drive engagement with the technology, says Time Out.

Sanjay Vakil, Time Out’s Director of Product Development, said: “We were very excited to develop a voice-activated Time Out experience for the Google Assistant. As more and more people use conversational platforms, it is a natural step for us to explore the powerful channel of conversational UI and optimise our inspirational content for voice. It allows us to help millions of urbanites whenever and wherever they want great recommendations – this is a technology which could change the way people go out and discover the city.

“We are very proud of what we have developed in close collaboration with Google; this joint project once again demonstrates that we are serious about being at the forefront of new technologies that make it fun and easy to experience the best of the city.”

Alice Zimmermann, Global Product Partnerships at Google, commented: “We’re at the beginning of a massive shift towards conversational interfaces. Time Out has an extraordinary wealth of local content tailored for different audiences including families, singles, professionals, and couples. Since the Google Assistant aims to make daily things easy – like deciding what to do – Time Out is a great fit for our platform. The app makes it really convenient to make positive changes in your social life, no matter who you are.”