Android Police

Google Assistant

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Most Android TV devices should now be controllable by Google Home

Owners of Android TV boxes and sets have been asking one question ever since Google Home and Assistant launched: why can't I control my device with voice commands from my smart speakers? It works for Chromecast, so why wouldn't Android TV be supported? Worse yet, some things half-worked, like turning the TV on/off, and asking for YouTube videos or photos from your personal collection. But more intricate controls like volume, playing videos from other sources, pausing, or turning on subtitles, weren't possible. Now, they should be.

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Continued Conversation on Google Home works in UK English (and possibly more)

Continued Conversation lets you reply to Assistant after it answers you, without having to repeat "OK Google" every time. For instance, after asking it for the weather, you can respond to your smart speaker with another command such as "How about tomorrow?" Until recently, the feature only supported US English, but the company has now made it available to all English users.

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Google Assistant can natively control smart blinds

Technically speaking, Google Assistant has had native support for smart blinds and shades for a while now, but it was limited. Some brands, like Lutron Caseta and NeoSmartBlinds have had it implemented, showing you a special icon in the Home app and letting you immediately ask Google to lower the blinds or open them. But for most developers and smart home makers, the APIs weren't documented. Now they are.

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Google Assistant is now bilingual in more languages

Back in August, Google added bilingual support to Assistant, giving users the ability to address it in two different languages without fiddling with settings. As I live in Paris, I'm a big fan of this feature: I mostly speak to my Assistant in English, but I find it much easier to use French when mentioning an address for example. Also, when I have guests over, they can easily interact with my smart speaker in their native tongue, rather than having to speak in English. Initially, Google introduced support for six languages and gradually added many more. The company is now expanding this list to incorporate new ones, including regional dialects.

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Google Assistant phone calls are spreading to more third-party speakers

Feature parity is a huge point of contention in Android, and now in Google Assistant speakers too. Whenever Google announces a new ability for its Home line-up, you can toss a coin and it's pretty much 50-50 whether this will work on Assistant speakers from other brands. For phone calls, the situation has been more dire. Even though Google Home users could make a voice call starting August 2017 (in the US first), those with third-party speakers didn't have that option. But things are getting better.

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[Update: Deal available again] Grab a 2-pack Aukey smart socket or a dual outlet smart plug for ~$20

Earlier this week we were telling you how you could save money on new smart plugs thanks to Amazon's markdown. Although this was an interesting deal, many Assistant users felt let down as they were only compatible with Alexa. Well, we've got some comforting news for you: With these promotional codes, you can grab a pair of Aukey WiFi Smart Plugs for just $20 or a dual outlet plug for $19, respectively $8 and $6 off their original prices.

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YouTube Music comes to Google Home in many more countries (Europe, Japan, Canada)

As the story goes, Google isn't particularly good at making its own services and apps work together. Take YouTube Music for example. It took months for the streaming service to be available on Android Auto and as an alarm provider in the Clock app, and it still isn't integrated in Google Maps the way Spotify and Play Music are. But things are ever-so-slowly improving. You can (now) pick YouTube Music to be your music provider on Google Assistant and Home speakers in many, many more countries.

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[Update: Google announcement] Continued Conversation is rolling out to Assistant smart displays

Saying "OK Google" is already more syllables than are required to wake up competing smart assistants like Alexa. Saying it again just moments later to complete another task gets annoying. Google released "Continued Conversation" last year to make Home speakers listen a little longer to catch additional commands. It didn't work on smart displays like the Home Hub, but that changes today.

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Google Assistant on Android TV can speak four new languages

We rarely speak of Assistant on Android TV because changes in the platform are highly dependent on TV and set-top box manufacturers, infrequent updates, and sometimes server-side pushes from Google. But language support is something we keep an eye on, as it allows users who don't speak English to use the Assistant on their TVs.

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Shouting "OK Google" at your phone won't unlock it anymore

A few years ago, Android introduced an innovation that let users unlock their phone using a pattern instead of a mere password or PIN. Nowadays, there's a myriad of ways to wake up your device, whether it's using a fingerprint scanner, face recognition, or even palm authentication.

One of my favorite ways to unlock my phone is — or rather was — Voice Match because I can do so even when my hands are dirty, or my handset is out of reach. For instance, it's particularly convenient if I want to read a message while doing the dishes, or if my device is out of reach when I'm watching a movie.

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