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Google Assistant

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Google Assistant versions of Marshall's retro-inspired smart speakers are now available

Marshall announced its first smart speakers, the Acton II and Stanmore II, back in August. They released in October, the initial batch packing Amazon's Alexa. Marshall said Google Assistant models were to follow later in the year. Well, it's later, and the company made good on its word: Assistant-compatible versions of the Acton II and Stanmore II are now available.

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Google is testing a new UI for Assistant that puts Explore and your visual snapshot in the bottom bar

Google has toyed with Assistant's interface on Android countless times so far, adding a keyboard input method, Google Lens, then the Explore section, and finally the Now-like interface of upcoming cards (aka "visual snapshot"). But two things have puzzled me about it: one is that Explore and Visual Snapshot were almost invisible to people and I always had to explain where the icons were and what the did, and two is that getting to your Assistant's settings was an even more obscure process, and it was almost easier to just do it from the Google Home app than Assistant. Well, it seems that Google is working on solving at least the first of these problems.

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Tip: Google Assistant's Broadcast replies are live

Every few weeks, Google announces (and sometimes re-announces) a bunch of new Assistant features, so it's getting a little difficult to keep track of all of them. Among those was an option to reply to broadcasts, and now it's live.

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AI will soon decide what you hear in Google Assistant news briefings

The news reports you get from Google Assistant are about to get a whole lot smarter, or so says Google. The same artificial intelligence that powers the Google News app is coming to Assistant. Google pitches the new system as a way to get quick, personalized news in audio form throughout the day.

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A smaller, less distracting version of Google Assistant is now rolling out to Maps

After teasing a navigation-optimized Google Assistant for Maps at I/O 2018, Google is now rolling out the feature to Android users. The new version of Google Assistant in Maps is smaller, less distracting, and executes more commands in the background.

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Beware when buying third-party Google Assistant speakers and Smart Displays, updates and features are not equal

Another year, another category of Google-compatible products has flooded the market. A few years ago, it was the Chromecast, then it was the Google Home and Home Mini, and now it's the Google Home Hub. With every first-party release comes a slew of third-party alternatives, boasting the same features, same integrations, same functions, but with different designs and prices. On paper, they should be equal to Google's, but time and time again, we've learned that they're not.

Never though have the lines blurred as much as with the Home Hub and its Lenovo and JBL brethren. They look almost the same, both on the outside and in their interface, and Google pushed them earlier than its Home Hub, advertising them and talking about them as if they were its own.

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[Update: Clear skies again] Today's forecast for Google weather includes offline servers with a chance of service interruptions

If you're like me, the majority of your interactions with the Google Assistant are questions about the weather. What's it like now? What'll it be like tomorrow? Is it raining in Seattle? Right now, though, such questions are going unanswered, as Google seems to be having trouble delivering weather information for many.

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Google Assistant adds Pretty Please, lyrics for Google Play Music on Smart Displays, and more

If you've splurged for a Google Home speaker or Smart Display over the Black Friday/Cyber Monday madness, you'll be glad to know they're getting new features soon, some of which are coming just in time for the holidays.

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Google Home supports Brazilian Portuguese, Assistant adds 4 Indian languages beside Hindi

Google Assistant's language expansion is continuing on. Google had promised that 38 countries and 17 languages would be added in 2018 and many have already launched over the past months. But the year is nearing its end and we're still a little far from those numbers. Recent additions bring us closer though, as Assistant can now speak four more Indian languages and has expanded Brazilian Portugese' support to Google Home speakers.

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Get the 8-inch Lenovo Smart Display with a free smart outlet or light bulb for $100

This is the first holiday season with Assistant-powered smart displays on the market, and there are plenty of discounts to be had. Lenovo's smart displays are getting down there, as you can see from the roundup post. However, there's one Lenovo deal that warrants special attention. The 8-inch Smart Display can be yours for $100 with a free smart outlet or light bulb.

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