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The best Google Assistant skills in 2020

Best Google Assistant skills
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The best Google Assistant skills can not only let you get the most out of your Google Home smart speaker, but, thanks to its smartphone app, you can get the power of the Assistant wherever you go. 

Google Assistant has come a long way in a short time. Initially, it simply used Google's powerful search to help you look up information, but it's gone much further than that.

Now, the best Google Assistant skills let you control your smart home gadgets, navigate your schedule—and the world—translate other languages, get recommendations and test your trivia knowledge.

While Google Assistant can be found on smart speakers such as the Google Home and Google Nest Hub Max, it's also available as an app on iPhone and Android devices, too. But with thousands of skills, it's tough to know where to start. We've rounded up some of the best Google Assistant skills to give you a hand.

Here are the best Google Assistant skills

Find your phone

Google Pixel 

Google Pixel  (Image credit: Future)

Already misplaced your new Pixel 4 XL? Whether it's fallen in the couch cushions or you can't remember which jacket you've left it in, you can use Google Assistant to find it. If you have a connected Google Home speaker, like the Nest Mini, you can ask it where your phone is and it will ring your phone. One of the best Google Assistant skills, this works even when your phone is on silent or Do Not Disturb mode, meaning you'll be able to find it easily.

Unlock your Pixel

Best Google Assistant skills: Unlock your smartphone

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You love that Google Assistant responds to your voice when your screen is off, but you hate it when your PIN and fingerprint methods appear on screen (requiring an extra step to unlock the device). Bypass these additional steps by using Google Assistant's voice command to unlock your device. Go into your Google Assistant settings, and select OK Google Detection followed by Trusted Voice.

Open apps with your voice

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Let's say you're washing your hands, but you want to see your latest Gmail notifications on your smartphone. Just say, "OK, Google, open Gmail," and watch Gmail open. One of the best Google Assistant skills out there, this command helps you open other apps, including third-party apps, as well.

Screen your phone calls

Best Google Assistant skills: Screen phone calls

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Tired of getting bothered by telemarketers? Then this is the best Google Assistant skill for you. If you pick up a Pixel 3 or later smartphone, you can have Google Assistant field those annoying and unwanted calls. The latest Pixels include a Call Screen feature where the Assistant will answer the phone on your behalf. Even better, an onscreen transcript of the call will appear so that you can see whether the call is coming from someone you can safely ignore. If it is a telemarketer, just mark the call as spam and move on. While the new Pixels get this feature first, Google says that it will come to earlier Pixels via a software update.

Have web pages read aloud

(Image credit: Google)

Whenever a web article is open on your browser in your Android phone, you can say, “Hey Google, read it” or “Hi Google, read this page” and Google Assistant will narrate the published content on that web page. The skill lets you determine the pace at which Google reads, and helps you follow along with highlighted text as the pages autoscrolls. Google Assistant can also translate the page from the language it was written it to your language of choice.

Search for images

Best Google Assistant skills: Search for images

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Having a hard day at work? What's better than pictures of baby animals to lift your spirits? Ask your Google Assistant to do a Google image search of baby animals and you'll feel better in no time. This works for any image you might want to find. This is one of the best Google Assistant skills if you just need to smile. 

Get advice on where to eat, drink, dance or shop

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It's Friday night, you're out with friends, but you're clueless as to where you should go for dinner or dancing. One of the best Google Assistant skills can help: By way of the Nearby feature, you can find out what places around cater to whatever you're in the mood for. Just ask Google Assistant to "show me nearby restaurants," and finding that great new spot is just a tap away. Google Assistant gives you a list of restaurant names with the establishments' star ratings; tap on a listing to get the address, directions and a link for calling the restaurant.

Get suggestions for vacation spots

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If you're looking to get away, Google Assistant can serve as a virtual travel planner. Just ask Google Assistant, "What are some great vacation ideas?" if you're open to anything. To be more specific, ask, for example, "What are the best places for vacation in November" to find seasonal travel hotspots. Google Assistant will pull up search results, which you can tap for more information.

Play your favorite Netflix shows and movies

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If you want to kick back and enjoy a new movie or old TV show with family and friends, just ask Google Assistant to start streaming your show. You can even get specific: Say, "Play Stranger Things on Netflix," and watch the Hawkins kids escape the Demogorgon at any time. The feature can be hit-and-miss, with older shows like MacGyver and Murder, She Wrote tripping up Google Assistant, though the "Play Luke Cage on Netflix" command works just fine.

MORE: Best Netflix movies

Test your expertise

You name it, Google Assistant has a quiz on it. Gamers can say "Talk to Video Games Quiz," while those interested in culture and history can try "Talk to Indian Culture Quiz." Google can even quiz you on tech-company CEOs: Say "Talk to Company Quiz." The Assistant will keep track of your score, and let you know how you did at the end.

Get a news report

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It's one thing for Google Assistant to deliver your favorite news, but how about getting the assistant to read the news to you each morning? You only have to tap the software home button; when the pop-up box comes up with the Google Assistant question, "How May I help you?" say, "Good morning." Google Assistant will say, "Good morning, (your name here)," and give you the weather in your city as well as read the latest news from your customized news sources. You can also say, "Good Afternoon" or "Good Evening," and get your news read, since Google Assistant is aware of each time of day.

Get a positive news report

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Tired of the unrelenting negativity of the news cycle? Your Google Assistant can provide some relief. Just say "Tell me something good," and you'll get a summary of an uplifting news story with the option to find out more by tapping a link.

Get more sports scores 

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Sportsfans will think this is the best Google Assistant skill; You can find out who won yesterday's big game, just by saying, "Who won yesterday's Broncos-Texans game?" (OK, so that may not be what most people want to know). Asking Google Assistant, "Who won the NFL game yesterday?" will bring up a list of NFL football scores from the day before. You can also ask Google Assistant for historical sports data, such as "Who played third base for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1960?" (Don Hoak).

Get a weather forecast

Use Google Assistant to find the weather

Use Google Assistant to find the weather (Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Ready to plan your weekend getaway to the park for a romantic picnic? You'll need to make sure the weather cooperates. Just grab your mobile meteorologist, Google Assistant, who can tell you if it'll be sunny with the temperature in the 70s or cold and rainy. Google Assistant is pretty flexible here. Asking, "What's the weather for the weekend?" will give you a forecast, while "What's it like outside?" triggers a rundown of current conditions.

Send a voice message

Google Assistant lets you send voice messages to Google Home speakers.

Google Assistant lets you send voice messages to Google Home speakers. (Image credit: Tom's Guide)

If you're out and about and need to contact your kids at home, Google Assistant can broadcast a voice message directly to your Google Home speakers at home, and your family can respond. Google Assistant also transcribes your message if your family member would rather read it. 

Book movie tickets

You can book movie tickets using Google Assistant

You can book movie tickets using Google Assistant (Image credit: Google)

Using Google Assistant, you can search for movies based on title, who's starring, and what's playing in the theaters near you. By selecting one of the showtimes, you can then book a ticket through Fandango. No more waiting in line! It's one of the best Google Assistant skills for film buffs.

Play some tunes

One of the best Google Assistant skills is playing music.

One of the best Google Assistant skills is playing music. (Image credit: Tom's Guide)

On a road trip and feel like breaking out into song? Keeping your hands on the wheel, you can tell Google Assistant to "play music," and get the party started on the road. To strike up the band, simply say, "OK, Google," followed by "play music" or "sing a song." Look out for a disruption in playback if you have too many devices authorized on your Play Music service (you can have up to 10 devices max) or if you have yet to set Google Assistant to unlock your Pixel.

Set important reminders

Set a reminder using Google Assistant

Set a reminder using Google Assistant (Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Google Assistant's greatest power is that it can draw information from other Google apps and services — including Keep, Calendar and Gmail — to provide information at a moment's notice when you need it. If you fear you've missed any emails from yesterday, you can always ask Google Assistant, "Did I miss any emails from yesterday?" and the assistant will pull up emails that remain unopened.

Need to be reminded of that bill you keep forgetting? Want to make sure you don't forget your wedding anniversary? Just set a reminder with Google Assistant, and you'll never forget that date again. To set the reminder, you can say, "OK, Google, set a reminder for my wedding anniversary," and it's done, other than thanking Google Assistant for maintaining your wedded bliss. (By the way, Google Assistant will reply with "You're welcome" should you thank it).

Jog your memory

Set a reminder using Google Assistant

Set a reminder using Google Assistant (Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Sometimes it’s hard to keep track of the little things, like where you parked your car or even where you left your car keys or wallet. It’s pretty easy for Google Assistant, though, if you take advantage of the digital helper’s ability to set reminders. Just say “OK Google, remind me that my car keys are in the kitchen on the counter,” and Google Assistant will recall it for you when you ask again.

Manage your shopping list

Add items to your shopping list with Google Assistant

Add items to your shopping list with Google Assistant (Image credit: Tom's Guide)

When in the grocery store, the last thing you want to do is fumble for your grocery list. If you've been using Google Keep, no worries: Google Assistant can grab your shopping list. You need only go into your Google Assistant settings, then select Shopping List beneath Pixel. The Assistant will enter into Google Keep and retrieve your list. Who knew hiring a professional shopper could be so fun, easy and free?

For the holidays, you can also add gift ideas to a gift list. Say "Hey, Google, add a t-shirt for Joe to my gift list."

Find a loan

Use Google Assistant to find a loan.

Use Google Assistant to find a loan. (Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Google Assistant can answer all of your questions about finding and paying back a loan with Leslie, its artificially intelligent loan expert. Say "Okay, Google, talk to Loan Finder," to take advantage of her knowledge. You can ask Leslie your own questions, or ask for her answers to the most popular ones. After you answer a few questions, Leslie can redirect you to a listing of loan offers suited to you (via a partner website). For existing loans, Leslie can spit out the amount you'll be paying over the length of your loan term.

Set alarms and wake up routines

Set an alarm with Google Assistant

Set an alarm with Google Assistant (Image credit: Tom's Guide)

No need to fumble with the snooze button on that alarm clock in the morning when you can trust Google Assistant to wake you up on time. You need only tell Google Assistant, "Wake me up at 8 a.m.," to set an alarm. If you're bored with the regular alarms, you can even say "Wake me up at 8 a.m. to Pink," and it will play selected songs from her. You can pick any song, artist, or playlist, and Google Assistant will draw from the default music service you specified. Using Google Routines, you can also set an alarm to trigger other actions. For example, Google can read you the news, or turn on your lights after you've dismissed your alarm. 

Plan a route

Plan your trip with this Google Assistant skill

Plan your trip with this Google Assistant skill (Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Some people want to plan their travel down to the smallest detail, including learning the fastest route to their destinations. If you're looking for the fastest way from Point A to Point B or you just need to get home from a place you've visited for the first time, ask Google Assistant to tell you. The trip from Florida to New York isn't as long as you'd think. Google Assistant works with both Google Maps and Waze. 

New York City residents can also use Google Assistant to check public-transit schedules, using either an Android phone or a smart speaker. Ask "Hey, Google, when is the next F train?". You'll get your train's ETA and walking directions to the nearest station.

Send a text message

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Need to send a text message telling a friend or loved one you'll be late to dinner? No problem. Just say, "OK, Google," followed by, "Send a text message to (the person's name)." From there, you can dictate the exact message you want delivered. Google Assistant will then ask you whether you want to edit the message or send it.

Set a kitchen timer

What's cooking? Use Google Assistant to set a kitchen timer.

What's cooking? Use Google Assistant to set a kitchen timer. (Image credit: Tom's Guide)

You're cooking at home for the first time in months, and you're enjoying a simple evening with your spouse. Make sure to set your baked chicken on a timer by saying, "OK, Google, set a timer for baked chicken for 2.5 hours." You can use the timer for other things, too, but dinner preparations are a natural for this Google Assistant skill. Plus, you can set multiple timers, naming each, so you know when to take the side dishes our of the oven, too.

See if things add up

Google Assistant makes for a good calculator

Google Assistant makes for a good calculator (Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Instead of scrolling through the listings grid, you can ask Google Assistant when specific shows are playing, and on what channel. For example, you can ask "When is Law & Order on next," or "what channel is showing Hell's Kitchen?"

Not everyone can do math in their head, and there’s really no need to with Google Assistant close at hand. Just say “OK Google, tell me what is 15 x 24,” and it’ll respond with the answer quickly. Now, you never have to fumble for the calculator app on your smartphone or piece of scratch paper ever again.

Get a motivational quote

You can do it! Google Assistant can provide motivational quotes. 

You can do it! Google Assistant can provide motivational quotes.  (Image credit: Tom's Guide)

You've got this! Way to go! Sometimes, a good motivational quote can help inspire you to push on just a bit more. Google Assistant can help you take a step back and keep going with famous motivational quotes. Just ask.

This Google Assistant skill can also deliver quotes on any topic of your choosing. Try asking for a music quote or a space quote.

Translate between languages

One of the best Google Assistant skills is its translation feature.

One of the best Google Assistant skills is its translation feature. (Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Traveling to a foreign country where you don't know the language? This is the best Google Assistant skill to help you get around. For example you can say, "How do you say 'dinner' in Spanish?" or whatever word or phrase you want translated with your language of choice — Google Assistant can translate 188 languages.) The assistant will speak the translated phrase for you. 

If you need to hear the phrase again, just say, "OK, Google, repeat that," and Google Assistant will do as you command. 

Interpreter mode

This Google Assistant skill can translate between two conversations.

This Google Assistant skill can translate between two conversations. (Image credit: Tom's Guide)

This Google Assistant skill is similar to the translation skill, but Interpreter Mode can translate a conversation in real time between 44 different languages. Just say, "Hey Google, be my {insert language} interpreter," to have Google Assistant show and speak both sides of multi-language conversation in real time.

You can use Google's Interpreter Mode on any Google Home speaker or smart display. Say "Hey, Google, by my French interpreter" to start up a bilingual conversation. Google will translate what you're saying into French in real time, and can translate your partner's response back into English as well. 

Use your camera to identify your surroundings

Use your smartphone's camera and this Google Assistant skill to translate signs.

Use your smartphone's camera and this Google Assistant skill to translate signs. (Image credit: Tom's Guide)

One of the best Google Assistant skills leverages your smartphone's camera to help you translate signs. Just point your phone's camera at an object and Google Assistant will overlay the text with a translation in the language of your choice, complete with contextual responses. Snap a photo of a concert marquee, and Google Assistant will be able to parse out the name of the band and offer links to play their songs or buy tickets to the show. After debuting on the Pixel phones, Google has since rolled out Lens to other devices.

Assign a new language or dialect

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Practicing a new language or dialect for a business trip? You can use Google Assistant to help with your language skills. Tap the white software home button at the bottom of the display until you see Google Assistant appear. Next, tap the three gray dots at the top right of the pop-up box, then Settings, then "Adjust settings for this Pixel device." From there, tap Assistant Language, go to Language Preferences and select Add a Language. From there, you'll be prompted to select a language and dialect (Français and Canada, for example) that you want for Google Assistant.

You can also give Google an Australian or British accent by selecting "Assistant Voice" under Google Assistant Settings.

Tell a story

While you're running around getting your kids ready for bed, Google can read them a story. Say "Hey, Google, tell me a story," or "Hey, Google, tell me a bedtime story." Stories feature a number of popular characters, including the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. On Google Home speakers in the U.S., Google can also play music and sound effects while you read certain children's books. 

Have a laugh

(Image credit: Google)

If you need some humor in your life, Google can help. Say "Hey, Google, tell me a joke" for a cute joke. You'll get a wide variety of quips, from knock-knock jokes to question-answers and slick one-liners. Jokes come in many different languages, and are tailored to your region. 

Assign reminders

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While you could already send yourself reminders, you can now have Google Assistant be the family nag, reminding your partner, kids or roommates to do things like pick up the dry cleaning, preheat the oven, and take out the trash. 

Assignable reminders are available for phones, Google Assistant-enabled speakers, and smart displays, such as the Google Nest Hub Max.

Record stories with My Stories

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The My Storytime skill lets you record stories for playback when you’re away from your family. When you upload audio files to MyStorytime.com, any Google Nest speakers and displays on your account can play them aloud. Just say “Hey Google, talk to My Storytime," to listen.