- 1 Male voice
- 2 Find my phone
- 3 Family-friendly apps
- 4 Routines
- 5 Apps with transactions
- 6 Broadcast
- 7 Google Lens integration
- 8 Pixelbook and Pen
- 9 Pixel Buds
- 10 Nest integration
- 11 Spotify controls
- 12 Song recognition
- 13 Hands-free calling
- 14 Turning your TV on/off with Home
- 15 Sending Home searches to your phone
- 16 Preferred speaker for Home
- 17 Home multi-user for all
- 18 Night mode for Home
- 19 Assigning speakers to rooms
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.
We actually learned of this a day before the event, but Google Assistant on phones and Home now supports a male voice. This voice, creatively dubbed "Voice II," is exactly what you think it is: a man's voice emanating from your speakers instead of a woman's. To enable this, you can go to either your Assistant or Home app, where it'll be under Preferences > Assistant Voice. This is already rolling out in the United States, but we're not sure when other countries will get it.
Find my phone
Have you ever lost your phone while it was on silent/Do Not Disturb? Sure, you could hop on Google's Find My Device app or site, but that's a bit tedious. Instead, you can now say to your Google Home (whether it be the regular, Mini, or Max), "Ok Google, where's my phone?" or "Ok Google, find my phone." Your phone will ring through Play Services (same as the Find My Phone app) regardless of whether it's silent/DND or not. This only works for Android phones, though; iPhones will just get a phone call, which doesn't really help. This is already live.
Google's introduced 'Apps for Families,' which are apps for Google Assistant that follow the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) in the United States. Basically, that means there can't be any advertising, any things for sale, any inappropriate content, or any collection of personal information. This means that your kids will soon be able to play games and listen to stories with Assistant without you worrying.
With Assistant's new 'routines,' you'll be able to program certain actions to your voice. For instance, you can make your lights turn on in the morning with a simple "Ok Google, good morning." This was already possible to a certain extent for news and calendar appointments, but this has more control. It's similar to what Stringify and IFTTT do, though it's in a cleaner, more easily accessible package. Something called 'Voice Match' will also be present, enabling different family members to create their own triggers and routines.
Apps with transactions
Google demonstrated a feature that allowed people to send money through Assistant via the Pay with Google API back at I/O. That was pretty cool, but it wasn't production-ready. Now, however, transactions are really coming to Assistant apps. Over the next week, you'll be able to make purchases with 1-800-Flowers, Applebee’s, Panera, and Ticketmaster quickly and easily. So for Ticketmaster, you'll just need to say "Ok Google, talk to Ticketmaster" to order movie tickets. Developers will also be able to submit apps with transaction functionality next week.
This one will be particularly nifty for those of you who have multiple Google Homes: the new broadcast feature allows you to say "Ok Google, broadcast: Dinner's ready!" and have "Dinner's ready!" announced through every Google Home in the house. It pretty much works as a one-way intercom, and is sure to save a lot of parents' throats since they'll be doing a lot less screaming. This can also be done through Assistant on your phone.
Google Lens integration
Lens is basically Google Goggles on steroids; it reads pictures and identifies words, notable things, and more. It'll be exclusive to Pixel phones first in Google Photos, but Google Lens will soon come to Assistant. Then, you'll be able to identify things for you on the fly, which is sure to be handy. Look out for it over the next few weeks.
Pixelbook and Pen
Assistant comes built into the Pixelbook, and it can do some pretty cool stuff. Well, the one on the computer will be able to do everything that Assistant on your phone can, but the Pen will be capable of using Assistant to identify things just by circling them on the screen. So if you want to know what a certain landmark in a picture is, just use the Pixelbook Pen to circle it and Assistant will do the work for you.
As is expected with anything Pixel-branded, the Pixel Buds also have elements of Assistant on board. Without having to undergo the task of taking your bulky 6" Pixel 2 XL out of your pocket, you'll be able to choose music, get notifications read to you, get directions, or set a reminder. Just press and hold on the right earbud, and Assistant will activate. The Pixel Buds will also use Google Translate to help you when you're out and about, which actually sounds extremely useful while traveling.
A simple "Ok Google, show me the entryway on my TV" to Assistant will let you see what exactly is going on downstairs without having to get out of bed with Nest's new smart camera, the Nest Hello. And next year, 'Familiar Faces' will broadcast the names of the people waiting outside through your Google Home(s) based on facial recognition. We're truly living in the future, folks.
Currently, you can only control Spotify playback through your Google Home, but that's about to change. Just link your Spotify account, Premium or otherwise, to any Assistant-equipped device and you'll be able to say things like "Play Today's Top Hits on Spotify" and get that playlist going. It seems to have been live for a few days now for some, which is great to hear.
This was a popular feature with Google Now that rendered apps like Shazam useless, but it was taken away from us when Assistant came on the scene. But now, asking Assistant "what's this song?" will reveal a legitimate result, not just the previous "I can't do that yet." So simple, yet so useful.
Here's another feature that was originally announced at I/O: hands-free calling for the Google Home. It even uses your personal number through what we believe to be caller ID spoofing (Amazon does the same). To set this up, you just need to enter your phone number, and confirm it via an SMS message. It's also coming to the UK later this year.
Turning your TV on/off with Home
People are lazy. If you're already lying on your couch and don't want to deal with finding the remote, Home will now be able to turn TVs with Chromecasts connected on or off. Previously, you could turn the TV on by telling the Chromecast to play something, but you couldn't just turn the TV on and leave it at that. Turning the TV off via voice was previously completely impossible.
Sending Home searches to your phone
As we all know, you can ask your Home questions about the weather, appointments, sports scores, etc. But if you want to do some more research and have to leave the house, or maybe you just want to share the search results with someone else, you can now send Home searches to your phone. After setup, all you need to say is "Ok Google, send this to my phone" after searching for something interesting.
Preferred speaker for Home
One of the things that makes Google Home great is how you can initiate media playback on a preferred speaker just by specifying which one in your voice command. However, if there's one speaker you use most of the time, you can now select it as the default. So now, you can simply say, "Ok Google, play Nickelback" and have it streamed straight to your chosen speaker.
Home multi-user for all
Google Home multi-user is used to distinguish between family members' voices and keep data separate, and it's been live exclusively in the US and UK. Not anymore, though; multi-user functionality is coming to all seven countries where Home is sold. Good news for those of you who live in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, or Japan.
Night mode for Home
The thing about computers is that they're not usually aware of when to be loud and when not to be, unless they're given specific instructions. Previously, if you told your Home to turn the lights off at 2am when you were in bed and already half falling asleep, it would pretty much yell "OK, TURNING OFF THE LAMP." But now, with Night mode, you can choose intervals when Home needs to be quiet so that it doesn't interrupt your beauty sleep. Simple, but handy.
Assigning speakers to rooms
Homes themselves could already be designated to control certain rooms, but connected speakers couldn't for some unknown reason. Google has now fixed that, allowing speakers to be assigned to individual rooms. To set this up, just go to the 'Home Control' section of the Home app.
- The Keyword