Google is slowly phasing out its older voice recognition technology in favor of the Assistant, and the latest Android app to benefit from the transition is Chrome — which is great news for multilingual users. A long-available flag has finally become functional, allowing you to retire the old voice search interface in favor of a snazzy Assistant look.
One of the worst things about smart home hardware is the setup process. Some Assistant-compatible devices are almost plug and play, while others need third party integrations with linked services and a long, convoluted setup. Back in 2019, Google added a feature called "seamless setup" that makes the process a whole lot easier, though over a year later, only a handful of things support it. But in the future, smart home gadgets with the feature will get a badge on the box to make them easier to spot.
You can already play any content with Chromecast support on Google Assistant smart speakers, like the Nest Audio or Lenovo Smart Clock Essential, but you need a phone or tablet nearby to start the process. Some services offer full integration with Assistant, allowing you to ask for specific artists or songs using only your speaker, and now Apple Music is joining in.
One enterprising Danish independent Spotify artist has recently released an album titled "Ok Google Play Music," filled with similarly titled tracks targeting Google Assistant music queries like "Hey Google Play Workout Music" and "Hey Google Play Study Music." In all cases, from Christmas to cooking music, the songs are lo-fi ambient handpan and steel tongue drum — at times, paired with soothing water sounds. You can't make this up.
Google has taken down the Assistant-integrated AutoVoice Action again, for the second time in a year. This time, the company claims the action "promotes content that advocates hate or violence or promotes discrimination," apparently because someone in Germany stringed together a clearly custom command that made the Assistant spout off some hate speech.
Following its English to turkey translations in Search, Google has introduced some more fun Thanksgiving Easter eggs. On smart speakers and displays, the company has added a small audible and visual surprise when you tell the Assistant to set a turkey timer, and there is a new turkey filter in Duo that you can use for some laughs with your family while socially distancing.
Following its acquisition in progress, Google already confirmed that it would add the Assistant to the latest Fitbit smartwatches, the Versa 3 and the Sense, and today, it has arrived as part of Fitbit OS 5.1. The update will roll out to the two health trackers starting today, and it packs a few more things on top of the Assistant: Automatic SpO2 readings at night without the dedicated watchface, new SpO2 clockfaces, audible Alexa replies, and more.
The Chromecast with Google TV isn't like your old Chromecast — it's the first to come with proper Android TV and a remote that even works with your TV or soundbar. However, that's where some problems are introduced. Depending on how you've set up the Chromecast remote, you might notice that it's become impossible to control the volume via Google Assistant or your handset when you cast from your phone. Here's what you need to know if you want to enable that functionality.