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Google Assistant Is About to Get More Useful On Every Smart Device

Illustration for article titled Google Assistant Is About to Get More Useful On Every Smart Device
Photo: Andrew Liszewski (Gizmodo)

Google Assistant is incredibly useful, but depending on which devices you own, you might not have access to all of its commands and features. Google plans to change that. In an update announced today, the company pledged to make more of its Assistant’s abilities available on as many devices as possible, starting with three important additions.

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The first feature that will become available on more devices is Voice Match, which allows the Google Assistant to recognize who’s asking a question simply by hearing them speak. This is critically important, because the Google Assistant uses your identity to relay relevant information about your schedule, commute, and so on—details which might not apply to everyone in your house. On top of that, every smart speaker or smart display can support Voice Match for up to six people, so unless you have a really big family, everyone should be able to get individualized responses.

The second feature that will become available on more devices is hotword sensitivity, which allows you to customize how responsive the Google Assistant will be when you say, “Hey, Google,” or, “OK, Google.” Admittedly, for a lot of native English speakers in the U.S., the Google Assistant is already pretty good at responding in a timely manner when you ask. However, for people with accents, tweaking the Assistant’s hotword sensitivity can go a long way toward making voice commands easier to use.

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Finally, the third feature that will get wider support is the ability to choose which speaker is your default speaker for playing music or other audio. Setting up a new default speaker should be as easy as opening the Google Home app, and then selecting your speaker of choice. That said, if there’s ever a time when you want to music to play on a different speaker in your home, you can also specify that at the end of a command: “OK, Google, play Daft Punk on the kitchen speaker.”

Regardless, for some smart speakers (I’m looking at you Sonos) that took years to get even the most basic Google Assistant functionality, it’s nice to see Google committing to bring more of the Assistant’s features to a wider range of devices.

Senior reporter at Gizmodo, formerly Tom's Guide and Laptop Mag. Was an archery instructor and a penguin trainer before that.

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DISCUSSION

I would love it if I could get Voice Match to actually, you know, match my voice most of the time.

I most commonly use it to add things to my shopping list. I’ll be cooking across the room in the kitchen, realize I’m low on something, and ask Google to add “x” to my shopping list. Half the time it will say it could not recognize my voice, blah, blah, blah, and after it goes through that spiel, I have to stand still, directly in front of it, and speak like Ben Stein in Ferris Bueller to get it to work.