Android Police

Google Assistant

5

Chrome OS 83 released with Assistant media playback control and renameable virtual desktops

The coronavirus pandemic ruffled Chrome and Chrome OS releases quite a bit, so Google paused updates for a short time, even omitting version 82 altogether. But now the company is getting back on track and has announced the release of Chrome OS 83. It'll start rolling out to first people this week, and it brings a whole slew of neat improvements to the table. None of them are as big as the addition of gesture navigation we've seen in version 81, though.

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18

Google confirms new voice-confirmation feature for purchases in Assistant

A new setting to allow Voice Match to confirm purchases made through the Google Assistant has been spotted in the Assistant's Payments and Security settings pane. We've confirmed with Google that the new feature is part of an early but limited pilot that allows you to authorize purchases in a handful of categories with just your voice via the Assistant. Piles of Google's support documents have been recently updated to reference the feature.

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32

Ten tips and tricks for your Google Nest Hub

Google's Nest Hub smart displays have a lot of self-evident uses: checking the weather, setting timers, or watching a little YouTube. But they can feel a bit underwhelming out of the box, especially if you're not the kind of person to go diving into various settings menus and start tuning and tweaking things to your liking. But there are a handful of things we think are worth knowing about using your smart display that can make it a more personalized and more useful companion, even if may not be the powerful stationary home tablet you might have envisioned.

In this guide, we'll go over some helpful features in Google's line of smart displays in particular: the Nest Hub (formerly named the Home Hub) and Nest Hub Max.

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5

How to preserve some privacy when you're using a Google Assistant speaker

Google Assistant speakers can be great tools, giving you an easy entry into voice-controlled home automation, but they can also feel like spies giving Google intimate insights into your life and daily routines. If you don't want to go without the convenience an Assistant speaker offers, there are at least some things you can do to make it less invasive.

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12

Google realizes smart displays aren't very intuitive, starts experimenting with usability improvements

Google is giving 1,000 Nest Hub Max smart displays to residents in seven Merrill Gardens retirement communities in Washington state as part of a new test. The company is using it as an opportunity to provide a "new experience" that changes the smart display's interface a bit to help with ease of use and feature discovery.

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23

Nest Hub and other Smart Displays get improved smart home controls for Hue, Shield, smart locks, vacuums, and blinds

Google's Nest Hubs and third-party Assistant Smart Displays have been receiving an update that vastly improves their smart home controls. Among the changes we spotted are live light status and scenes for Philips Hue and Lifx, new Shield controls, the ability to unlock your smart lock, plus controls for blinds, air fresheners, and vacuums. Other product categories may be updated too, but we don't have everything on hand to test with.

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4

You can now talk to JustWatch on Google Assistant

JustWatch is a neat way to find out which streaming service has the TV show or movie you’re looking for. But wouldn’t it be better if you could simply ask the Google Assistant to do the searching part? While there is no official solution from JustWatch yet, an indie developer was able to deliver the capability using an Assistant action.

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12

Google Assistant’s ‘Your places’ lets you easily check the weather and traffic before you set off

Saving the places you frequently visit is a neat way to take location-based actions across Google services quickly. In Assistant, you can ask for traffic around your office before leaving or navigate your way to the supermarket. But there isn’t an easy way to manually check weather and traffic conditions around your saved locations if you want to avoid talking to the voice bot. Google is seemingly trying to bridge the gap by adding a pair of direct buttons, but it still takes a few taps to get there.

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101

Google Home finally lets you adjust 'OK Google' listening sensitivity

There's still a little bit of magic every time you say "OK Google" and all your smart speakers, displays, and Android handsets line up to respond with a cacophony of lights and buzzes. But while that makes for a fun little display, sometimes we wish that all these smart devices weren't so sensitive, and that things like Google Home were better about knowing when you were talking to them in particular. Thankfully, it looks like a new "Hey Google" sensitivity setting is about to arrive, letting users control how responsive they want their devices to be.

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25

Google Home testing separate Assistant voice volume setting

One of the longstanding demands of Google Home users, myself included, has been the ability to control Assistant’s volume independently of the music’s. A new setting has started appearing for iOS users that lets you tweak the volume of your Assistant's voice — but it doesn't really work yet.

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