Google Assistant Overview Updated September 26, 2021

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1,027 'Google Assistant' stories

June 2012 - September 2021

Google Assistant Stories Yesterday

In October of 2019, Google Assistant introduced an Issa Rae voice that responds to a subset of common queries, like the weather. Just shy of two years later, at the end of this month, the cameo will stop working.

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Google Assistant Stories September 24

At the start of August, the new Google Assistant lost its translucent/transparent UI. The original NGA design is back today on Pixel phones, though it’s not clear whether the look is here to stay.

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Google Assistant Stories September 23

Back in November, Assistant Driving Mode started rolling out as part of Google Maps. Google today is making official the new “dashboard” experience coming to Driving Mode, while the Assistant capability is set to get wider availability and a new way to launch.

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Google today has three car experiences, and all of them are seeing updates. The biggest is an upcoming “Hey Google, pay for gas” command, while Android Auto is getting new media and connectivity features.

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Google Assistant Stories September 17

The Pixel exclusive “Hold for Me” feature that allows you to utilize the Google Assistant to hold the line until you are ready now appears to be expanding into Canada.

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Google Assistant Stories September 14

[U: Broken again] Google Assistant support for MyQ garage door openers was broken for weeks

Commands sent to Google Assistant can talk to a myriad of devices, and some are incredibly convenient. The ability to open and close your garage door, for example, is extremely useful. However, one popular automated garage door opener, MyQ by Chamberlain, has apparently had its Google Assistant integration broken for a couple of weeks now.

Google Assistant Stories September 13

Google directly offering some Assistant users a ‘Special Discount’ on the Home Mini

Despite being almost four years old and having a successor, the Google Home Mini is still on sale. One measure to get rid of them is a “Google Assistant Special Discount” where you can get a Home Mini for $9.99.

Google Assistant Stories September 12

Assistant Driving Mode was announced at I/O 2019 to replace Android Auto on phones. It was supposed to launch that summer but was delayed, and is now happening with Android 12. Ahead of that, the homescreen UI unveiled over two years ago is finally appearing in Assistant Driving Mode.

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Google Assistant Stories September 9

A year ago, Google streamlined Assistant preferences by switching to one unified list showing all features in alphabetical order. The latest step to simplify Google Assistant settings involves splitting Voice Match and other options by device type.

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Google Assistant Stories September 8

Software issues plague some Lenovo smart displays, Google investigating

The first thought around Google Assistant smart displays is usually Google’s Nest Hub lineup, but there are some third-party options, too. Lenovo has offered a handful of smart display options for the past couple of years, but recent updates have left many with some very frustrating software issues.

Google Assistant Stories September 1

Back in April, we told you about an in-development “Guacamole” feature that will let you use Assistant without hotwords. This Google Assistant capability will launch as “Quick phrases,” and we now know more about how it works.

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Google Assistant Stories August 31

Google Assistant routines are a great way to automate home functions through voice commands, and slowly they’re getting smarter. Now, Google Assistant is rolling out a new routine trigger that allows routines to start when you dismiss an alarm.

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Google Assistant Stories August 30

One of the downsides of Google’s second-gen Pixel Buds, as well as their mid-range successor the Pixel Buds A, is that there’s no noise cancellation. With powerful competition like the AirPods Pro and the Galaxy Buds Pro both packing noise cancellation, it was a shame to see the Pixel Buds skip it.

In its place though, the most unique aspect of the Pixel Buds series is their ability to respond to the “Hey Google” hotword, which up to this point had not been replicated on any third-party earbuds. That is, until now. JBL’s latest true wireless earbuds, the JBL Tour Pro+, are the first third-party earbuds to have full Google Assistant integration, including audible notifications and “Hey Google” support.

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While smartphones are increasingly approaching feature phone pricing, the latter category still has a place. As such, “smart” feature phones exist, and many are powered by KaiOS, though Google Assistant in recent months lost the ability to make calls and send texts through voice commands. 

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Google Assistant Stories August 27

Assistant Snapshot carries forward the legacy of Google Now, though its prominence is diminished compared to the previous feed. Its standing might be further de-prioritized following a pair of worrisome changes to Snapshot in the Google app and Assistant.

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At the end of last year, Google thoroughly redesigned and simplified the process of creating Assistant Routines. That update introduced sunrise/sunset triggers, and Google will soon let you program a delay between when the command is given and the Assistant Routine starts. 

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Earlier this week, some Google Home users got the option to add delayed starts to macros. Google has now updated Assistant with support for “Daylong Routines” that allow actions to automatically trigger at different times over the course of a day. 

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Google Assistant Stories August 17

Neat tool replaces Google Discover w/ Google Now-like ‘Snapshot’ on rooted Android phones

Google Discover has filled the spot on the left-most panel of many Android homescreens for years now, but it replaced a tool that had some genuinely useful functions. Now, a new tool from a talented Android developer offers users the choice between Discover and “Snapshot,” the offering that replaced Google Now.

Google’s ambitions in the car led to Android Auto being redesigned a couple of years ago, mostly to positive feedback. However, the version of Android Auto on phone screens was meant to shut down at the time and has been on life support ever since. Now, that version has stopped working for some users.

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Google Assistant Stories August 13

The Google Assistant preferences page allows you to sign in and select what services to use on Smart Displays and speakers. A small tweak today sees Google Assistant separate settings for “Photos” from “Videos.”

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Google and Sonos have been engaged in a semi-public feud over the past couple of years, which has seen some legal battles as well. Following a lawsuit started in early 2020, a preliminary ruling has been passed down that accuses Google of infringing on several Sonos patents.

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Samsung products have always been a bit tricky when it comes to voice assistants since the company has its own Bixby offering but usually is required to still support Google Assistant alongside it. With the Galaxy Watch 4 series, the Wear OS-based smartwatches will be lacking Google Assistant entirely when they launch and might have to wait for Google Pay.

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Google Assistant Stories August 11

Ahead of the new school year, Assistant is gaining a handful of features to help families organize their day. Assistant’s popular Family Bell sees a pair of phone and visual updates, while Google Search is also adding study aids.

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Google Assistant Stories August 10

Tomorrow will hopefully mark the beginning of the Apple Watch getting a serious competitor in the form of Samsung hardware running Google software. The wearable space is in serious need of competition, but it’s unfortunate how the two competing efforts are fundamentally the same. That similarity has deep ramifications for how we will experience technology for the foreseeable future.

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Over the weekend, the new Google Assistant on Pixel phone started losing its original translucent UI. The design that replaced it is now appearing on other (non-NGA) Android devices with minor tweaks – a shorter panel – and greater emphasis on Lens.

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Google Assistant Stories August 8

Besides on-device processing for faster commands, a new interface was one hallmark of the new Assistant that first debuted on the Pixel 4. The look very much reflected how Google wanted Assistant to be in the background. That’s now changing, as the new Google Assistant’s original UI is disappearing this weekend.

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Google Assistant Stories August 3

Ahead of the launch of the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 series, we’re learning that Wear OS will soon be able to support “alternate” assistants, such as Bixby.

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Google Assistant Stories August 2

Similar to Smart Displays and speakers, Google is adding Accessibility settings for Assistant on Android. However, the exact functionality remains unclear at the moment.

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Google Assistant Stories July 28

While Duplex is most known for calling on your behalf using a human-like voice to make appointments, the technology is also being used to speed up online interactions. Some Google Assistant users are now seeing Duplex on the Web help with “Fast checkout” when shopping.

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Google Assistant Stories July 24

Back in March, Google made Assistant generally available for all enterprise accounts on Android. Workspace users will soon be able to use Google Assistant on the Nest Hub Max and other dedicated devices.

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Google Assistant Stories July 17

[Update: Fixed] Setting timers on Wear OS with Google Assistant is broken

A big overhaul of Wear OS is underway, but the upgrade path for existing devices is unclear for now. Until then, current owners are impacted by a recent issue that sees them unable to set a timer with Google Assistant on Wear OS.

Google Assistant Stories July 12

As summers just keep getting hotter, most of us are looking for ways to cool down our homes conveniently. While you could pick up something like a Nest Thermostat or Ecobee to do that job, sometimes something as simple as a standing fan does the job. I’ll raise you one better, though. How about a standing fan that you can control with Google Assistant and use with battery power?

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Google Assistant Stories June 25

Over the past few weeks, Google has introduced standalone preference pages for various Assistant features. The latest sees Google Assistant settings for the Android “Lock screen.”

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Google Assistant Stories June 22

Google Assistant is capable of controlling literally hundreds of different kinds of devices, but some can get fairly expensive. Smart curtains and blinds, for example, can cost hundreds of dollars and require new hardware to install. SwitchBot, though, has a clever solution to Google Assistant-controlled curtains that’s at least relatively affordable.

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Google Assistant Stories June 18

The standalone Google Assistant app reaches 500 million Play Store downloads

While the Google Assistant comes pre-installed on what feels like every single product released now, the standalone app has now amassed 500 million downloads on the Play Store.

Google Assistant Stories June 17

One of the key aspects of the Pixel Launcher experience is “At A Glance,” which has seen a handful of weather-related tweaks in recent months. Google is now planning to overhaul the capability into “Live Space” and better integrate it on with Assistant on Pixel phones running Android 12.

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Google Assistant Stories June 16

Wyze Lock adds long-awaited support for Google Assistant w/ latest software update

Smart locks are a great way to make your home’s security a bit more convenient, but many require paying an arm and a leg for the privilege. In the company’s usual fashion, the Wyze Lock bucks that trend and offers much more affordable hardware, and now, it finally supports Google Assistant.

Google claims technical issues running Assistant and Alexa simultaneously, Sonos claims otherwise

As a court case between Google and Sonos rages on, an interesting tidbit has recently come out. Google says that there are technical issues preventing Google Assistant and Alexa from running side-by-side on the same device, but Sonos claims they’ve figured it out.

Google Assistant Stories June 9

With Android 12 Beta 2, the Google Assistant has learned how to open the power menu on your phone, in return for taking over the power button.

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Google Assistant Stories June 7

Google Assistant bringing Duplex restaurant bookings to smart displays, expanding Guest Mode

After launching to users in 2018 and expanding to online orders earlier this year, Google Duplex on Assistant is making its debut on Nest smart displays in the near future as another feature also expands to more users.

Google Assistant Stories June 6

For some users, Assistant has a tendency to pick up “Hey Google” and answer on the wrong Smart Display/speaker. Google is now soliciting feedback when the wrong Home activates with a “Which device did you expect to respond?” notification.

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Google Assistant Stories June 2

The last visual revamp for Assistant in late 2020 saw the light bar come to all Android devices. Google is now working on what looks to be a new design that takes advantage of dropdown menus to show more information, while Assistant is getting new microphone sounds.

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Google Assistant Stories June 1

On your phone, responses to most Assistant commands return web results, various cards, or directly open an app. Some Google Assistant responses that include text replies have now been tweaked so that the font is much larger to aid visibility.

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Google Assistant Stories May 21

With Android 12, the Google Assistant gained the ability to be invoked by long-pressing the power button, which normally opens Android’s power menu. In turn, the Google Assistant is gaining the ability to power your phone off with your voice.

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Google Assistant Stories May 18

Widgets are already getting a big visual revamp as part of Material You and Android 12. Google is now bringing widgets to Assistant and considering driving-optimized ones for Android Auto.

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In Android 12, the power button now acts as a shortcut to Google Assistant. Google may have pitched this as a handy shortcut, but let’s be honest, this is just copying a trend Apple started. Regardless of how you feel about that, there’s a very unfortunate side effect. At the moment, this change cuts off access to the traditional power menu.

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With Duplex, Google wants to handle tedious, multi-step tasks on your behalf. The most famous example is making a phone reservation, but the Assistant-adjacent technology is also used for walking through online forms. Google Assistant and Duplex can now help you change stolen passwords step-by-step in Chrome.

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Google Assistant is pretty much the name of the game when it comes to understanding natural language, and if Google’s latest breakthrough is any indication, the future is even brighter, thanks to “LaMDA.”

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