Here's How Google Assistant is Making Android Phones Even Smarter

More Android phones are getting Google Assistant, letting users read, hear, and send SMS text messages without ever touching their phones.

As part of a new update, you can have Google Assistant read your most recent text message from a specific contact. Or you can just ask it to "read me my text messages." If you ask the latter, your Assistant will bring up your five latest text messages and for each one, it'll ask you whether you'd like to hear it or skip to the next.

Android phone users have already been able to use "OK, Google" commands to set timers, alarms and check their calendars, but the ability to hear text messages and send them using your voice is new. It's a a welcome convenience for Android users, but it's far from perfect. When I asked my Google Assistant on my Samsung Galaxy S7 to "show me my last text message," it told me: "You have no text messages from 'last'."

Google previously announced that Assistant would launch on phones running Android 6.0 for English and German speakers, with versions for other languages rolling out later this year. It'll be a part of an automatic update, so if you're running the right version of Android and have automatic updates enabled, you just have to sit back and wait.

Google Assistant has already been available to those who use Google's Allo messaging app, Google Pixel phones, Google Home and Android Wear smartwatches running the new Android Wear 2.0 operating system.

Althea Chang is Associate Director of Content Development for Consumer Reports and was previously a Senior Writer for Tom's Guide, covering mobile devices, health and fitness gadgets and car tech.