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Google Assistant gets playful with new Halloween-themed Easter eggs

Google Assistant doesn't need to do a whole lot more to earn the "spooky" tag, but that's not stopping the team behind it from trying — but this time for smiles, not shivers. The virtual assistant is now equipped with interactive, intentionally humorous responses to some Halloween-related questions and commands.

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Google is permanently nerfing all Home Minis because mine spied on everything I said 24/7 [Update x2]

When the first home assistants were announced, I was excited. A device I could wake up with a simple hotword that would answer my questions, set reminders, turn on the TV, and dim the lights, all without me having to get off the couch, sounded fantastic. Amazon's Echo and Echo Dot, Google's Home, and a myriad others, most recently the Home Mini, have invaded our kitchens, living rooms, and bedrooms. Heck, I put one in the bathroom.

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Google Assistant now sounds more natural thanks to DeepMind's WaveNet technology

When Google acquired British artificial intelligence startup DeepMind back in 2014 nobody was really sure why. It was a secretive company without any consumer-facing products, but it clearly had some technology of interest in Mountain View. DeepMind is now part of the wider Alphabet structure, and now a little bit more is known about what goes on there, including the work it does for Google.

One of the latest projects to come out of DeepMind is called WaveNet, a deep neural network for generating more natural artificial speech recordings, and its use case at Google is obvious. Google Assistant should sound much more human now that WaveNet has been incorporated into it.

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Here are all the new Home and Assistant-related features that Google announced at its October 4th event

Google revealed a lot of products at its San Francisco event on October 4th, namely the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2XL, the Home Mini, and the Home Max. There were also software features announced for Google Assistant and Home products, but there were so many that they're hard to keep track of. So if you ever need to dig up that one specific Assistant feature from the event, you can find it here.

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[Update: Live] Google Home can now help find your phone, even if it's on silent

Where is your phone right now? Is it in your pocket, on the coffee table, or has it slipped in between the couch cushions? You won't have to wonder about where your phone has gotten to anymore, as long as there's a Google Home nearby. Google is adding a feature to find your phone with a voice command, even if the phone is on silent.

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You can now send information from your Google Home searches to your phone

Among the dozens of new features we keep discovering about Google Home is one interesting and very useful new feature. You can now have your Google Home send the results of a search to your phone. It's excellent for those instances when you want to read more about something, check again the result later, or share it with someone through an app on your phone.

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Google Assistant 'routines' will soon let you personalize multiple actions you can trigger with a single command

Wouldn't it be great if upon waking up you could say "Ok Google, good morning" to have your lights and coffee machine turned on while the news is read to you? Similarly, when you go to bed, it would be great if you could say "goodnight" to have your lights dimmed and your security system activated. Well, soon™ you'll be able to, thanks to new multi-step actions that can be added to everyday 'routines.'

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You can now turn on and off your Chromecast-connected TV with a Google Home command

It's the little things you guys. Sometimes, you're sitting in the living room and you just want to turn on your TV without reaching for that remote. Sure, you can ask Home to play something on your Chromecast, which will automatically turn the TV on, but then it'll start playing something while maybe you just wanted to see those pretty backdrops. And forget about turning the TV off, that just didn't work.

Until yesterday that is. Google published a new support document that explains that you can now turn on and off the TV with Google Home. You'll need to have a Chromecast connected to your TV and for the TV to support HDMI-CEC with CEC turned on (basically this is what allows the TV to turn on automatically through an HDMI command).

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You can now pick a preferred TV/speaker for media playback with the Google Home

Ever since the Google Home was first released last year, you could use voice commands to start media playback on a Chromecast-enabled TV or speaker. For example, you could use commands like "Play The Office on the living room TV" or "play music from Coldplay on the kitchen speaker." Now Google is making that slightly easier, with the ability to pick a preferred device for media playback.

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Check out all the videos for Google's newly announced products

Today was Google's big hardware event, and we saw a ton of new things. There are new phones, new Google Homes, and even a new Chromebook. You can relive it all right now. In addition to the live streamed event, Google posted a number of ads and product demos. Here they all are, organized by product.

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