Google Assistant will soon have many more capabilities and compatible devices, the search giant announced today (Jan. 7) at CES 2020 in Las Vegas.
CES has become the place where Google takes the wraps off new capabilities for its voice-powered assistant in recent years. For this year's round of updates, the Assistant will be able to work with the Philips Hue HDMI Sync Box to sync Philips Hue smart lights with your TV. That functionality is coming later this spring, Google said in a blog post.
The Assistant is getting a new reading voice. Google promises that it will sound less like a robot, though that's entirely in the ear of the beholder. And one feature that puts that upgraded voice front and center will be read-aloud web pages. Simply say "Hey Google, read it," and the Assistant will read the web page to you, a feature that could come in handy for articles when you don't want to stare at your phone screen.
The read-aloud feature will work in 42 languages, according to Google.
In fact, Google's entire announcement is a grab-bag of features and integrations, so we'll list them one by one.
- Instant deletion of unintended commands: If you want Google Assistant to disregard something it misinterpreted as a command, just say, "Hey Google, that wasn't for you."
- Faster setup of smart-home devices: If you're setting up a new device using the device's Android companion app, Google Assistant will jump in and walk you through the process, even logging you in with your Google credentials.
- More devices will have Google Assistant built in: Samsung smart TVs and "smart displays, speakers, headphones and soundbars from Acer, Aftershokz, Anker Innovations, Belkin, Cleer, Harman Kardon, Konka, JBL, Lenovo, Philips, Seiki and LG."
- Scheduled actions: Google Assistant will be able to turn compatible devices on or off ahead of time. For example, you can tell it to turn on the coffee maker before you get up in the morning.
- Delete command history from Google Assistant: If you don't want Assistant to retain, for example, the past week's activity, you can tell it, "Hey Google, delete everything I said to you this week."
- More devices that interact with Google Assistant on your phone: Besides the Philips Hue HDMI Sync Box, Google says that the Assistant will be able to work with the August Smart Locks, Telus Wi-Fi Hub routers, GE appliances Ultrafresh Front Load Washer, MOEN shower, D-Link Outdoor Wi-Fi Spotlight camera, Viaroom Smart, Somfy TaHoma Hub, Yeelight Staria Bedside Lamp Pro and MerossSmart's garage door opener.
- More devices controlled by the Google Home app: Google's not listing any brand names, but it's promising that the Assistant will control AC units, air purifiers, bathtubs, coffee makers, vacuums and more through the Google Home app.
- Digital sticky notes on Smart Display: You can leave notes for the rest of your household to view without anyone needing to sign in.
- Top contacts on "speed dial" on Smart Display: You can designate certain contacts so that anyone in your household can call them simply by speaking a voice command or by tapping the contact listing on the Smart Display.
- Interpreter mode expanded: Google Assistant's instant machine translation will be compatible with Volara and Sonifi integrated systems found in airports, banks, events stadiums and hotels.
Of course, there's no timetable yet on when any of these new abilities will begin operating in the real world. Google only says that all this stuff is coming "this year."
Be sure to check out our CES 2020 hub for the latest announcements and hands-on impressions from Las Vegas.
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Paul Wagenseil is a senior editor at Tom's Guide focused on security and privacy. He has also been a dishwasher, fry cook, long-haul driver, code monkey and video editor. He's been rooting around in the information-security space for more than 15 years at FoxNews.com, SecurityNewsDaily, TechNewsDaily and Tom's Guide, has presented talks at the ShmooCon, DerbyCon and BSides Las Vegas hacker conferences, shown up in random TV news spots and even moderated a panel discussion at the CEDIA home-technology conference. You can follow his rants on Twitter at @snd_wagenseil.