Google Assistant just stole one of Alexa’s best features — and you can try it now

Google Nest Hub (2nd Gen) review
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Google Assistant is adding a couple of new features to connect the whole family this weekend, just in time for Mother's Day. 

For starters, Google will expand its Broadcast feature — which lets you send messages to other Google Home or Nest Hubs in your house — so that your note will reach family members wherever they are. Family Broadcast will transmit your note to both iPhone and Android devices, provided the person is in your Google Family Group. They can reply as well. 

The new Google Assistant capability is similar to Alexa's Drop-In feature, which lets you use any Alexa-enabled device or the Alexa app on your smartphone to talk to send a message to your Alexa smart speakers and displays.

Google Assistant

(Image credit: Google)

The other feature that Google is beefing up is Family Bell. Introduced last August, this feature essentially lets you set alerts throughout the day, such as when it's time for lunch, school pickup, or watering the plants. Currently, when you want to stop a bell from chiming, you have to precede the command with "Hey, Google," but starting this weekend, you'll simply be able to say "Stop." It's part of Google's effort to streamline its Google Assistant commands

Family Bell will now ring out on multiple Google Home devices, so you're more likely to hear the alert. Lastly, Family Bell will be available soon in French, Japanese, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, German, Hindi and Korean. 

Google is also adding some kid-friendly content: A partnership with Pottermore Publishing will see a number of Harry Potter-themed stories and games, starting with “Hey Google, tell me a Quidditch Story,” which you'll be able to watch and interact with on an Android or Google Assistant-powered smart display. 

The “Who Was?” series from Penguin Random House is also being added. For example, if you say “Hey Google, talk to Who Was Heroes’” you can listen to stories about Ida B. Wells, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and more than 100 others. To get a full list of all the stories that are available, say “Hey Google, tell me a story.” 

Combined, these enhancements aren't huge changes to Google Assistant, but they are good updates to its smart home platform, and ones that should make them more appealing to family use.

Mike Prospero
U.S. Editor-in-Chief, Tom's Guide

Michael A. Prospero is the U.S. Editor-in-Chief for Tom’s Guide. He oversees all evergreen content and oversees the Homes, Smart Home, and Fitness/Wearables categories for the site. In his spare time, he also tests out the latest drones, electric scooters, and smart home gadgets, such as video doorbells. Before his tenure at Tom's Guide, he was the Reviews Editor for Laptop Magazine, a reporter at Fast Company, the Times of Trenton, and, many eons back, an intern at George magazine. He received his undergraduate degree from Boston College, where he worked on the campus newspaper The Heights, and then attended the Columbia University school of Journalism. When he’s not testing out the latest running watch, electric scooter, or skiing or training for a marathon, he’s probably using the latest sous vide machine, smoker, or pizza oven, to the delight — or chagrin — of his family.