By now, you've seen dozens of demos of Google Home, but none, and I repeat absolutely none, is as adorable or as convincing as this 4-year-old boy talking to Google like she's his best buddy. I can't imagine the number of times his preschool teachers' eyes rolled when he talked about Google as if she was a close friend of his who answers all his questions and plays his favorite music.
But without getting ahead of ourselves, you'll see hear the boy turn on the living room lights at first, then launch into a series of "Okay Googeeelll" questions with the super precise enunciation that you expect of a 4-year-old (read: nah).
Hi Google, it's me Rita. I believe we've met before. Somewhere between Gmail, Google Photos, and Chrome, you must know a lot about me. Things I might not want others to discover, so hushhhh. (There are thousands of people reading us, let's not tell them about my love for Winnie The Pooh.) But our relationship doesn't feel equal; I barely have any information about you. Your new guy, this Assistant you've sent here to talk to me, I'd like to get to know him better. He looks a lot like the other guys you've sent before, Now and On Tap, but he seems special.
We've covered a lot of what Google Allo can do as a messaging application, but we haven't yet scratched the surface of one of its most interesting features: Assistant. It lives as a standalone chat, but also as a bot ready to answer any question inside your other conversations (not the Incognito ones though, as we've said before) by just mentioning @google.
Since Assistant is an evolution of Google Now / OK Google commands, and since Allo can send voice messages, there's a nifty feature you can easily deduce from the combination of the two: Assistant will interpret your voice messages in Allo. It's as cool as you might guess.
Google Now has a tendency to add voice commands without most people noticing. Besides the few listed in-app, Google hides most of its commands, perhaps the most useful ones. For example, Google's voice actions have been integrated and implemented within YouTube, so you can control video playback with your mi... wait, no that's the next update.
To get started, just start playing any video in the YouTube app. Then you can use any of these voice commands, triggered by the "OK Google" keyword, provided you have enabled its detection from any screen:
Google has been on a roll this week with app updates and there have been some pretty cool new features, not the least of which makes comic books more awesome. One of the latest arrivals to the list is a beta update to the titular app. Known originally as "Search," the Google app now encompasses a custom launcher, the Now stream, Now on Tap, voice commands, and more. The recently announced Google assistant is on course to join the party, promising to bring many of these technologies together to deliver something not unlike the computer from Star Trek: The Next Generation.
Have you ever wondered just how many things 'OK Google' voice commands can do? Wonder no more (or at least wonder less) - a new site called ok-google.io has set about documenting over 150 voice commands for Google on your Android device. Examples include:
Take a picture
Show me my messages
What's my next appointment?
When is my next alarm?
Set the volume to full.
And so on and so forth. The site overs a total of over 1000 example permutations for these commands, too. I didn't even know the "increase brightness" one was a thing, or "set volume to full" (max also works).
Google began rolling out an update to Maps v9.26.1 a few days ago, and it's sporting a handful of new features. Like so many versions of maps, there are quite a few well-hidden changes in this one, far more than the single item written in the official changelog. Most of the changes are subtle enough that you won't notice them if you're not comparing side-by-side, but they are improvements all the same. There are even a few things from the teardown that don't appear to have made this version, but should be things to watch out for in the future.
Search along the route in bicycling and walking navigation.
There were plenty of features announced at Google I/O yesterday regarding Android and some of those new things are meant for Android Auto - Google's car dashboard system. The most exciting of them is the fact that you will no longer need an Auto-enabled vehicle to be able to benefit from the simplified car-friendly interface while you're driving. You can also learn more about the features in our video, below.
In the next few months, Android Auto will get several interesting additions. First is Waze compatibility with the app running on your dashboard and keeping you in the loop of hazards ahead and potential delays and problems. Second is OK Google hotwording which will activate voice commands when you say "OK Google" instead of requiring you to press a button to start listening.
Google's weather card that shows up when you scroll through Google Now or search for the weather in a certain city is adequately functional. It's white with most text in grey, clickable days, an interactive timeline, and some minimalistic icons in grey, yellow, and blue. What you see above and below is definitely not that card. It seems to be a new design that Google is testing with plenty of modifications, both in looks and functionality.
The new card now expands to fill the entire screen and somewhat transform into a full-fledged weather app. Three tabs let you switch between views for Today, Tomorrow, and the next 10Days.
Of the many cool goodies in Google Search, this must be one of the most interesting and useful ones. Simply open Google Now or Google Search in Chrome and look for "bubble level," and you'll get a, well, bubble level. Quite expectedly.
The level appears as the top search card and is interactive. It adapts to whether you're holding your phone in portrait or landscape, or laying it flat on a table. While you may not use this for some very precise work, it is super cool and could come handy if you want to hang a poster or painting and just need an average way to know it's not completely crooked without installing a third-party app.