Google Assistant is one of the tech giant’s most important creations.
It’s an intelligent virtual helper that taps into Google’s vast wealth of knowledge, and is designed to always be on hand to make your life a little bit easier.
You can ask it questions, tell it to do things for you and even get it to crack jokes.
Assistant is available on a multitude of smartphones and Google Home, and is capable of linking with an ever-growing number of popular services and devices.
It’s also smart enough to recognise lots of different voices and remember all of the individual accounts, preferences and interests associated with them.
Google is trying to make it as capable and accessible as it can possibly be, and it’s growing better by the month.
However, because it’s designed to do so many things, Assistant isn’t exactly Google’s most intuitive product.
We’ve rounded up a selection of the best Google Assistant tips and tricks. Click on the gallery below to start browsing.
Google Assistant remembers everything you’ve used it for and stores the information “to do things like remember your interests and give more personalized responses”. However, if that makes you uncomfortable, you can see and delete the data by visiting https://myactivity.google.com/myactivity.
“Okay Google” and “Hey Google” are Google Assistant’s hands-free wake phrases, but you can disable them and instead activate the virtual helper by tapping and holding your phone’s home button.
To turn off “Okay Google”, tap and hold your phone’s home button, hit the Explore & Your Stuff icon in the top right of the popup window, select More and then Settings. After that, tap the phone section and disable “OK Google” Detection.
You can also go the other way by giving Google Assistant more control over your phone. You can use one of the wake phrases to actually unlock your phone hands-free, but Google warns that doing this can make your phone less secure, as “a similar voice or recording of your own voice” could be used to access your device.
If you’re happy to take the risk, touch and hold your phone’s home button, tap Explore & Your Stuff, More, Settings and the phone section. Once you’ve enabled ‘OK Google Detection, you can do the same for Access and Unlock, the option immediately below it.
You can set up Google Assistant shortcuts that can let you streamline your commands. Saying something like “workout time”, for instance, can be used as a way to get the virtual helper to play music, and “goodnight” can tell it turn off your lights.
To set one up, touch and hold your phone’s home button, tap Explore & Your Stuff, Your Stuff, Shortcuts and Create New Shortcut. After that, enter the phrase you’ll say to Google Assistant, and what you want your Google Assistant to do when you use the phrase.
If you’re in need of inspiration, browse through a list of popular shortcuts by going back to the previous page.
Google Assistant is arguably most useful when you access it through Google Home, the company’s smart speaker. This is because it can be hooked up to multiple Google accounts and is capable of recognising the different users’ voices.
As well as being good for privacy, this means each member of a household gets an experience that has been personalised to their preferences and interests.
To add an account to Home, open the Google Home app, make sure your phone is connected to the same Wi-Fi network as the Google Home you want to connect to, tap the Menu icon, Devices and find the device card of the Google Home you’d like to link to your voice.
From the device card, tap the blue banner labelled Multi User is Now Available or Link Your Account, hit Continue and follow the prompts to teach Google Home to recognise your voice. To invite other people to link their Google Account & voice for tailored results, tap Invite.
You can control Spotify through Google Assistant by linking your account to Google Home. Open the Google Home app, hit Menu, Account preferences, Media Accounts and select Spotify. The exact same process applies for your Netflix account.
Once you’ve linked your Google Account and voice to a shared Google Home, other people can access your music and video services using Google Assistant voice commands.
If you’re not comfortable with this, you can ask them to link their own music and video accounts to Google Home. All they need to do is open the Google Home app on their phone, tap Menu and Music and choose their favourite compatible music service, or tap Menu, More Settings, Videos and Photos and choose their favourite compatible video service.
People whose Google accounts aren’t linked to your Google Home will, however, still be able to play content from the default music and video services of the first person that linked their Google account and voice to the device.
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