The iPhone has Siri, and Amazon has Alexa, but Google has a great voice-powered assistant of its own. And it's no longer relegated to Google-built devices like Google Home or the Pixel phone; you can get Google Assistant on a wide range of handsets, from high-end products like the Samsung Galaxy S8 and OnePlus 5T to budget models like the Honor 7X and Moto G5 Plus. Even iPhone users can download an iOS version of Google Assistant. But what exactly can you do with Google Assistant?
Here are more than two dozen features that will help you do more with your phone, from giving you the latest news brief to casting Netflix shows to your TV.
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.
Let's say you're washing your hands, but you want to see your latest Gmail notifications. Just say, "OK, Google, open Gmail," and watch Gmail open. You can use this command to open other apps, including third-party apps, as well.
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.
It's Friday night, you're out with friends, but you're clueless as to where you should go for dinner or dancing. Google Assistant can help: By way of a 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.
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.
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 Cheers on Netflix," and Sam and Diane will soon be trading barbs at the Boston bar. 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.
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, Deidre" (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.