With distance learning in effect for the upcoming school season, at least in the US, Google Assistant is adding a handful of features to ease the transition. This includes Family Bell, precise Broadcasting, and other whimsical features aimed at kids.

Google wants to replicate how the school day is normally punctuated by a bell schedule. In addition to being useful for virtual learning, it’s great for anybody that wants to keep a personal schedule:

We can add bell reminders throughout the day that announce when it’s time to start an online class, take a break, settle in for reading time, have a snack or even for bedtime

You can enable it in Assistant settings or with “Hey Google, create a Family Bell.” It works on Smart Displays and speakers with controls available on Android and iOS. One nice setting lets you have different bells invoke simultaneously on different devices:

It includes suggested bells for activities like recess, nap time or math time, or you can customize bells to alert someone in your household of an upcoming activity.

Family Bell for Google Assistant is starting to roll out today in English in the US, Canada, UK, Australia, and India.

Other new features geared towards kids today includes:

  • “Hey Google, start the school day” and “Hey Google, school’s in session” will display a “school-themed visual and play the familiar sounds of school—like kids ruffling through their lockers.” It can be tied with any smart lighting in your house to flash a red, orange, and yellow sequence.
  • There’s also a straightforward “Hey Google, tell me about the animal of the day” for fun facts and daily challenges

Lastly, Google is finally letting you broadcast messages to specific rooms and/or devices instead of blanketing the whole house. Be sure to append the destination after “broadcast.” For example, “Hey Google, broadcast to the living room, dinner is ready.”

Spotted in testing last month, this feature is rolling out globally in English today on all smart home devices.

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