Google Home's best feature just got way more useful

Joanna Estrada
November 15, 2018

There's a lot to cover here and we want to respect your time, so we've broken everything out in the order that we find most interesting.

Nearly exactly a year ago, Google introduced broadcasts.

Looks like Home speaker users have more reason to utilize the tech more often now.

In October, Google launched a new Call Screen feature that uses Google Assistant to block spam calls. Now, the recipients of those messages can reply from a smart display or smart speaker, delivering a message back to your phone. That is sent to the user's phone both as an audio clip and as a transcribed message.

Google is also taking advantage of devices that pair Google Assistant with visual content to offer customers recommended recipes. It's effectively voice-centered text messaging on any Assistant-enabled device. What Google typically does better than most is software, but not necessarily this time.

Broadcast responses will be rolling out to all smart displays and smart speakers in the coming weeks.

From there, users can select different skills to customize their routine with, like instructing Google Assistant to them about the weather, their commute, morning meetings and other reminders.

As for Routines, it's now possible to add the custom macros to an alarm.

It can be accessed by going to the Clock app on Android devices.

That's on top of a slew of other tools that Google says can make it easier than ever for you to interact with your smart devices. This feature will be coming to Google Assistant sometime "soon". It's handy for calling people down for a meal, or reminding them that it's nearly time to leave for school.

If there's a holiday approaching, like Thanksgiving or Christmas, the Recommended Recipes card will start showing seasonal recipes. You can also save recipes you like in a dedicated "cookbook".

Google Assistant devices are particularly useful with kids, and Google is launching a few new features centered around them. New alarms will feature characters from LEGO, Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and more. There will be a ton of voices, tunes, jokes, and catchphrases that will help the kids get out of bed in the morning.

Finally, there's a new book, "Ara the Star Engineer" which works with the Read Along feature. Added earlier in November, it uses voice recognition to track where you are in the story as you read it out, playing the appropriate sound effects and music in the background. Google Assistant will also get 25 new stories to read out loud. It's also giving Google Assistant more family-friendly responses to prompts like, "Hey Google, I lost my tooth".

Then, once it runs through the users tasks or reminders for the day, users can configure it so that Google Assistant tells them the news and plays a podcast or an audiobook. Podcasts specifically are going to get a skip forward 30-second button and the option to adjust the playback speed, according to Android Authority.

These features will all be headed to Google Assistant and Google Home over the next couple of weeks, so be sure to keep an eye out.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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