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Google Assistant

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TicHome Mini review: A worthy portable Google Home Mini alternative, as long as you don’t mind paying double

Google introduced the Assistant SDK back in April, making it possible for third parties to build the digital companion into their devices. Sure enough, at IFA 2017 in Berlin back in August, the first Google Assistant-enabled speakers were announced, due to hit the market this fall. There are now several different options from a range of manufacturers, and they cover various use cases and price points.

Other Google Home alternatives with better speakers have also been announced by the likes of Sony and Panasonic. For those on a tighter budget there’s also the Zolo Mojo from Anker. And before that has even gone on sale, Google itself launched the Google Home Mini.

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Google Home can now directly control washers, dryers, vacuums, and dishwashers; also adds scene support

About a week ago, the smart home devices support page of Google Home was updated to add a host of new features that we hadn't heard about until then. We reached out to Google to get some information and we finally have a few answers to share with you.

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[Deal Alert] Get 20% off Ticwatch E and S Android Wear watches, 40% off Assistant-enabled TicHome Mini speaker

Sales, sales, sales everywhere. For 1 to 2 weeks every year, the entire world becomes a huge bargain bin where some sales are a little more enticing than the others. I think this one falls in the former category: Mobvoi is having some discounts on its Android Wear smartwatches and TicHome Mini speakers.

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[Deal Alert] Get up to $150 off JBL gear, including $40-50 off new Link Assistant speakers

Tis the season for deals and today there's more to be thankful about if you love great sound and even better features. One of our favorite audio brands, JBL, is having a big discount on many of its speakers. This includes small and more significant discounts on long-time Bluetooth favorites like the Clip 2 ($30 off), Charge 3 (a neat $60 off), Flip 4 ($20 off), and Xtreme ($150 off, half-price), but also really cool discounts on the newly announced streaming speaker range.

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Google Home now supports multiple calendars and a default one to create events on

I've barely used the calendar or My Day feature of my two Google Homes since getting them because of the lack of one major feature: multiple calendar support. See, I almost never add any event to my personal calendar since both my husband and I use a shared calendar so we always know what our responsibilities are, whether they're shared or individual. But now Google Home is finally adding multiple calendar support.

You can find the option if you open the Google Home app, go to More Settings in the left side menu, and scroll down to the Calendar section. (You can also get to it by going to Assistant, then blue box, then Settings.

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Google Assistant is able to troubleshoot problems on your phone (Pixel 2 only, for now)

The Google Assistant on the Pixel 2 and 2 XL is more powerful than ever before, and it can help you do a bunch of things with your phone like change settings or initiate a conversation with support. Thanks to a whimsical request from a reader, we now know about one more ability the Assistant has.

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Actions on Google open new languages (CA, IN, BR, IT, ES), better discovery, and more interactions for Assistant apps

Google Developers is rolling out a huge update to Actions on Google, the backbone through which developers can create those Assistant apps and integrations that are still a little hidden but can be very useful if you interact with your Home or phone a lot through voice. Both developers and users stand to benefit from these changes as there are a lot of improvements that will add up quickly for a better experience.

First, in terms of discovery, the Assistant's Explore tab / "app directory" will see two new sections for "What's new" and "What's trending." Now there's only a list of categories, which makes it impossible to spot popular services or new additions.

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Google Assistant now supports Singapore English on phones

Google Assistant's language support between different platforms is a confusing mess that I won't pretend to be able to understand, but the good news is that over the past year, more languages and variants have been added. We've seen Spanish and Italian recently, but today's addition is different: Assistant on phones should now work in Singapore English.

So if you live in Singapore and have set your phone to Singapore English as a language, you should start seeing Assistant soon (already?) when you tap and hold the home button on your phones, instead of the Google Now on Tap / Screen Search that was before it.

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[Update: Regional availability] Music recognition in Google Assistant no longer exclusive to Pixel 2, now works on more devices

Just about a month ago, the "what's this song" music identification functionality started to roll out to Assistant on both of the new Pixel 2 phones. Google's voice search (for instance, via "Google Now") had this functionality for a long time, but for whatever reason, the transition to the new Assistant stripped that feature away. Although it was back for the Pixel 2, it appears that music recognition in the Assistant is now rolling out to non-Google devices as well. 

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Sony's Android TVs now support the Google Assistant

If you're lucky enough to own a recent Sony 4K HDR set with Android TV, you now have access to the Google Assistant. As well as using it to explore video content and get information, you'll also be able to control your smart home devices, just as you can with the Assistant on your phone or a Google Home product.

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