When Google teased the next-gen Assistant at I/O this year, it left a lot of us in awe of how fast and seamless it was. But as the Pixel 4 launched and reality took over, we noticed many limitations with this new Assistant experience. Sure, it has more compact UI and continued conversation, but it only speaks English for now, requires full gesture navigation, and doesn't work if you have a G Suite account on your phone. It does, however, offer a few features that aren't available on the existing Assistant. Chief among them is better integration with some apps, which allows Assistant to reply to your messages, share photos, and find things in different apps.

Reply to texts in Messages or WhatsApp

Open a conversation in Messages or WhatsApp and trigger Assistant (squeeze, OK Google, or swipe from the corner). You can simply say "Reply" followed by your answer, and Assistant will transcribe this text and send it in the currently active chat. It's fast, seamless, and should save you several taps if your hands are dirty or occupied.

So far, we've verified that this works for Google's own Messages app and WhatsApp, but not Telegram yet.

Find and share images in Google Photos

If you ask Assistant on any device other than the Pixel 4 to show you your photos of something, it'll surface the results inside its own interface. On the Pixel 4, saying "show me my photos of food" opens Google Photos and displays the results directly inside the app.

Even better, when you're browsing pics in Photos and decide you like one of them, you can trigger Assistant and say "Share it with Bob" (or any other contact's name). If you have both Messages and WhatsApp installed, Assistant will ask you which app to send the photo with and remember that choice on a per-contact basis. It will then attach the image in the right conversation.

This may actually end up being faster than pulling up the slow Share sheet, choosing the app, then finding the contact. Again, Telegram didn't surface as an option, even though the app was installed on the same device.

Search for videos in YouTube

While on the homescreen, or in any app, you can ask Assistant to "search for yoga classes on YouTube," or any other kind of video. Normally, Assistant just opens YouTube and plays the first video it finds, but the new version on the Pixel 4 does actually perform a search and show you the results first, so you get to pick which one you want to play.

Find emails in Gmail

The same is true with email. Ask "Show me emails from Yelp on Gmail" and it'll open Gmail and give you the results within the app, instead of showing you a small card in Assistant with only a few emails.

Look for hotels in Maps

One more in-app search feature is tied to Maps. You can say "Find hotels in San Diego on Maps" and you'll see Maps load and the results appear in it — again, no small card inside Assistant.

Open a website

Finally, you can try asking Google to "Go to androidpolice.com" or "Open androidpolice.com." On the older Assistant, this opens the site in a Chrome Custom Tab, but on the Pixel 4 with the new one, you get the site inside Chrome with all options and features available.

The new Assistant is still in its early days. Only available on one device in one language and with many limitations, the digital helper isn't yet ready for a wide rollout, but we can already see signs of Google's future vision with it. The direct integration with some apps promises to expand Assistant's abilities beyond what Google has already allowed, and to speed up several tasks you normally need several seconds and taps to perform.

  • Thanks:
  • Moshe