What Can Assistant Do For You?
Google's voice-powered assistant can perform a range of tasks and the best part is that it's no longer relegated to Google-built devices like Google Home, Google Nest Hub Max, Nest Mini or the latest Pixel 4 phones. You can find it on a wide range of devices. Even iPhone users can download an iOS version of Google Assistant. Read on to find out everything you can do with this Alexa rival.
For more Google Assistant-related tips, tricks, and how-tos, check out our complete guide to Google Assistant.
Find your phone
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. It works even when your phone is on silent or Do Not Disturb mode, meaning you'll be able to find it easily.
Let Google Assistant unlock your Pixel
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
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.
Screen your phone calls
Tired of getting bothered by telemarketers? If you pick up a Pixel 3 or Pixel 3 XL, 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.
Google image search
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.
Get advice on where to eat, drink, dance or shop
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.
Let Google Assistant suggest vacation spots
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.
Cue up your favorite Netflix shows and movies
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.
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.
Have Google Assistant read you the news
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.
Get some good news
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
Google Now was always good at delivering sports scores from games on the same day, but Google says the new Google Assistant is good at not just "now" — the old voice command — but also scores from yesterday and game times for tomorrow. Find out who won yesterday's big football game, just by tapping the home button and saying, "Who won yesterday's Broncos-Texans game?" Asking Google Assistant, "Who won the NFL game yesterday?" will bring up a list of NFL football scores from the day before.
Make Google Assistant your weather forecaster
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
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
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!
Play some tunes
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
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).
Ask Google Assistant to jog your memory
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.
Give Google Assistant your shopping list
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
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.
Wake up with Google Assistant
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
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
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
Google has partnered with United Airlines to help travelers check into flights with Google Assistant. Once you've got the flight stored in your calendar, say "Google, check into my flight." You won't even need a confirmation number. You can also use Google to book hotel rooms through services such as Choice Hotels, Priceline and Travelclick.
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 feature.
See if things add up
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
When you're buried in work, it can be difficult to see the forest for the trees. But your Google Assistant can help you take a step back with famous motivational quotes. Just ask.
Google can also deliver quotes on any topic of your choosing. Try asking for a music quote or a space quote.
Use Google Assistant as your personal encyclopedia
When you're having trouble entertaining yourself, turn to Google Assistant for a little diversion. Just hit that software home button and tell Google Assistant, "I'm bored." The assistant can tell corny jokes (such as a bunny's favorite kind of music: "hip hop") and play games such as solitaire or tic-tac-toe, but it can also surprise you with some random fun, such as funny or trending videos.
Do you want to know a music artist's top No. 1 hits or the latest single from any given artist? Google Assistant can give you answers. You need only say, for example, "What are (artist name's) No. 1 hits?" to find the answer. Google Assistant can also do mathematical computations and field questions about weights and measurement, including converting currencies.
Translate Between Languages
You can change Google Assistant's language and dialect, but the mobile assistant can also make you a linguist. If you've set Google Assistant to unlock your phone, just say, "How do you say 'dinner' in Spanish?" (Simply replace "dinner" with whatever word or phrase you want translated and "Spanish" 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. You can also 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
Google Lens allows you you to point your phone's camera at an object and have it instantly recognized, 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.
Give Google Assistant a new language or dialect
Practicing a new language or dialect for a business trip? You can change 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.
Get movie tickets
Google joined forces with Fandango to turn your Google Assistant-equipped phone into a mobile box office. Besides asking the assistant for "showtimes near me," you can also use follow-up questions to find out who's staring in the movie or watch a trailer. Say "buy tickets," and options for buying multiple sets of tickets pop-up. You're even able to buy advance tickets for movies that aren't out yet or pick your seats via Fandango if you're ordering reserved seating.
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.
Credit: Silver Screen Collection/Getty
Have a laugh
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.
Google Assistant gained a neat new family organization feature just in time for back to school season. 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.
Record stories with My Storytime
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.