LAS VEGAS -- At CES 2019, Google announced a number of new features that will make Google Assistant even smarter this year.
Credit: Monica Chin/Tom's Guide
We got a hands-on look at some of the biggest features that will change the way you interact with your Google Home device, your Android phone or even your car.
1. Google Assistant Connect
While a number of gadgets contain or work with Google Assistant, and Google Home devices can act as smart-home hubs, Google itself has never had a full-on connected home platform. Until now.
Google hasn't given many specifics about Google Assistant Connect. What we know is that it will make it easier to develop cheap, simple smart devices of all brands, not just Google's. And it will centralize the information from all your smart devices to integrate them into scenes and routines.
But the coolest thing is that Google Home Connect will be able to use voice control with smart gadgets that don't include Google Assistant. For example, you'll be able to tap on a random air conditioner and say "Turn on for an hour."
There's no release date yet, but you'll see Connect in preview form later this year.
2. Gentle Wake Up
Google and Philips Hue have partnered to make it easier to create new lighting effects with Google Assistant.
If you own Philips Hue smart bulbs, you'll be able to integrate them with alarms that you've set via Google.
After you've enabled Gentle Wake Up, your lights will begin to simulate sunrise 30 minutes before your alarm goes off. Before you go to bed, the lights can also gradually fade over 30 minutes. Say "Hey, Google, sleep the lights," or "Hey, Google, wake the lights."
This is the first time that Google Assistant has been able to trigger a sleep fade; before now, you would have to do it through different brands' proprietary apps or IFTTT.
MORE: Philips Hue Lights Guide
3. Google Assistant and Google Maps
Several new Google Maps features are now available for Android and iOS. The most exciting one lets you automatically share your estimated arrival time with your contacts. Say "Hey, Google, share my ETA with mom." Google can use SMS, WhatsApp or whatever your preferred method is.
Credit: Monica Chin/Tom's Guide
4. Interpreter Mode
A new Google feature rolling out over the next few weeks helps you converse in more than a dozen languages. Say "Hey, Google, be my Spanish interpreter" to activate it.
On the Google Home Hub, you'll see the words you speak appear on one side of the screen and the translated words on the other side. You can speak to another person and get real-time audio translation, with each of your words appearing on your respective sides. The translation takes only a second or so.
5. Connected Clock
In 2018, Amazon released its first Alexa-enabled wall clock. Google is firing back with the $79 Lenovo Smart Clock, the first clock with Google Assistant built in. Credit: Tom's Guide
The Smart Clock is a cute device with a four-inch touchscreen. In addition to checking the time, you can use it to set alarms, check your calendar, monitor the weather and traffic or access the live feed from a connected Nest camera.
"I could see this little gadget finding a home on my nightstand," wrote our editor Mark Spoonauer, who spent some time with the clock. "In fact, the Smart Clock could be better for you than your phone, because you're much less likely to get sucked into notifications or your Instagram feed when you should be disconnecting for the evening."
While the device technically has a touchscreen, it's not meant to share the functionality of smart displays like the Lenovo Smart Display or Google Home Hub.
"The Lenovo Smart Clock isn't designed to be a mini smart display," Spoonauer wrote. "It’s a more purpose-built device for the bedroom, and I could see it gaining a following, especially for those who have other devices they can control with Google Assistant."
6. Google Assistant Meets Sonos
Sonos' premium smart speakers have been Alexa territory for the past few years. That's about to change, as Google has announced that Google Assistant is on its way to Sonos speakers (specifically, the Sonos One and the Sonos Beam).
7. Google Assistant on the Road
Google is working with third-party manufacturers Anker, JBL and Verizon to create car accessories that bring Google to your vehicle. The Anker Roav Bolt and JBL Link Drive will both be plug-in accessories that allow you to easily connect your car to your phone.
You'll then be able to use Google Assistant with your voice to check the traffic, text friends, or anything else you may do with your phone hands-free. The devices have echo-cancelling technology that will help Google hear you over background noise.
Hum by Verizon will deliver your vehicle's diagnostics. You can control it with just your voice using Google Assistant as well.
Additionally, a new version of Android Auto incorporates Google Assistant and has several new features for drivers. For example, you can have Google check if your smart devices are on at home.
In the future, Android Auto will support wireless connection with Android phones. Down the line, Google hopes that a version of Android auto can run natively in cars.
8. Smarter Messaging
Google has been making a push for smarter, easier messaging with its products. This year, we can expect smarter texts. Google now auto-punctuates your messages on both Android and iOS phones (in the Google Assistant app). It can also automatically read and reply to all your messaging notifications on Android phones.
9. Travel with Google
Google has partnered with United Airlines and booking services including Priceline and Choice to help you book hotels and flights with Assistant. You can also use Google at the airport: Say "Hey, Google, check into my flight."
10. Assistant on Your Lockscreen
Android phones have gotten even more hands-free. Google Assistant can now respond to queries without you needing to unlock your phone. Ask Google for nearby restaurants, and manage reminders, alarms and timers while your phone is locked.