Most, if not all, Android TV remotes come with a dedicated Google Assistant button. It allows you to speed up a ton of interactions and makes accessing shows and apps not instantly accessible on the homescreen easier. However, most TVs are shared between multiple family members, so it's a bummer that Assistant can't tell who's talking to it, especially since Google's smart speakers and displays are capable of customizing results via Voice Match. That feature might soon make the jump to Google's TV platform.
Google has just announced a handful of changes that are rolling out to third-party Assistant speakers. As usual, some of these changes are old (Google loves to announce stuff way after it actually lands), and the very short version is that Google is opening up three important Assistant features to some third-party smart speakers.
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.
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.
At this point, it's no mystery that Google is digging deeper into facial recognition technology. Earlier today, XDA posted details found in a leaked Android Q build that contains code related to facial recognition, and now a beta update to the Google app adds its own details to the story. It's safe to say that Google will not only support per-device recognition, but will also support it across Assistant-enabled devices with the proper hardware and even allow detection for multiple users where appropriate.
Every week, I examine somewhere in the neighborhood of a hundred app updates while looking for changes. The most interesting things turn into APK Teardowns or Download posts. Many of the remaining updates are unremarkable, amounting to a few bug fixes, routine updates to libraries, or even just pixel-level adjustments to layouts and images. However, there are usually a few updates that land somewhere in between. I don't want to spam readers with dozens of short posts, but I hate to ignore things that people might want to know about, so I'm going to wrap up the leftovers for a little weekend reading and call it Update Notes.
Google began rolling out the traditional friday night update to the beta channel. Like so many other updates, this one brings with it minor tweaks to the interface. Of more interest are the topics for a teardown, which includes changes to Voice Match, migration of more settings for the home screen, and a bit more about KITT.
For a while now, you've been able to set up what Google calls Voice Match with the Google Assistant. It recognizes your voice and gives you personalized results, both on smart speakers and smartphones. It would also let you unlock phones to perform actions like making phone calls and sending text messages just by saying "okay, Google" — but that feature isn't available on the Pixel 3.
The whale known as the Nexus 6 hasn't been in the news for some time, but a pretty annoying bug has been plaguing owners for almost two months now. "Ok Google" voice detection basically isn't working, showing the Voice Match setup page whenever the launch phrase is said.
The latest Google Home update is rolling out with a handful of small-ish changes. Some of them are mostly cosmetic, and a few others are convenient links to matching features normally found in the Google app. A teardown also turned up some vague teases for new devices. There is also a new setting for devices that have reversible controls, but it's not clear if that's live for anything yet.