Author Archives: Jack Krawczyk

Upgrade your drive with Google as your copilot

Do you drive with your phone clipped to your air vent? Or does your car have the latest built-in infotainment system? No matter what kind of car you own, Google is ready to make your drive better.  We’re bringing updates to Google Assistant driving mode, Android Auto and cars with Google built-in (welcome Honda!) to help every driver find their way around, stay entertained, and keep in touch.

Google Assistant driving mode on Android phones gets a new dashboard

Millions of people in more than 12 countries use Google Assistant driving mode every day, by offering  voice-activated help via your Android phone in older cars. We originally launched it for active navigation in Google Maps, helping drivers manage tasks, like answering a call or responding to text messages with minimal distraction. 

Thanks to early feedback, we heard how important it is to have your go-to apps handy for your drive, even when you don’t need turn-by-turn navigation. So coming soon, you’ll be able to say “Hey Google, let’s drive” (or connect your phone to your car’s Bluetooth) to open the new driving mode dashboard, reducing the need to fiddle with your phone while also making sure you stay focused on the road. With glanceable, tappable cards, the basics you’ll need for the road are available with a single tap — no scrolling required: Start your navigation, see who called or texted recently and quickly resume media from Amazon Music, Audible, iHeartRadio, JioSaavn, Pandora, Podcast Addict, SoundCloud, Spotify, YouTube Music and more providers. Plus, there’s a new messaging update: Just say “​​Hey Google, turn on auto read” to hear new messages read aloud as they come in and to respond by voice.

Driving mode will be the primary experience for Android phones going forward and will fully roll out in the next few weeks for Android phones in English (U.S., Australia, Canada, Ireland, India, Singapore and U.K.), German, Spanish (Spain, Mexico), French and Italian.

Image of the new Google Assistant driving mode dashboard which features easy to see, tappable cards to find media, navigate and call / text..

Improvements coming to Android Auto on car displays

We’re also launching new features for the more than 100 million cars compatible with Android Auto — bringing help from Google onto your car display via your Android phone. 

You’ll now see music, news and podcast recommendations from Google Assistant, and be able to set which app launches whenever Android Auto starts. You’ll even be able to enjoy games from GameSnacks right from the car’s display while you’re parked, waiting for a to-go order or charging your vehicle. 

If you’re a dual-SIM Android phone user, you can now choose which SIM card to use when making calls through Android Auto. And great news for commuters: ​​Android Auto will support your “Work profile,” which lets you see upcoming work meetings and messages on your car’s display. 

When it’s time to fill up at the gas station, you can now put away your credit card or cash and say, “Hey Google, pay for gas” on Android Auto or from your Android phone. Select your pump number and  complete contactless payment with Google Pay. This will be available at over 32,500 gas stations across the U.S. starting with Exxon and Mobil, Conoco, Phillips 66 and 76 stations. 

The best of Google apps and services built-in to more cars

In the coming years, millions of cars will have Google fully built-in to their infotainment systems, so you can get around with Google Maps, use Google Assistant to turn on the A/C, download your favorite apps on Google Play and much more, even without a smartphone.

Image of Honda's brand logo

We’re excited to share that our newest partner, Honda, will be launching future models with Google built-in starting in 2022. In addition to Honda, this experience will be available on cars from top brands including Ford, General Motors, Polestar, Renault and Volvo Cars. Today, you can test drive or purchase cars with Google built-in —  like the Polestar 2 and Volvo XC40 Recharge — and it’s coming to many more cars soon, like the new Chevrolet Silverado and Renault Mégane E-TECH Electric.

Image of a user asking Google to help find the nearest charging station from a car with Google -built in

If you drive an electric vehicle with Google built in, we make it easy to find charging stations and minimize charging time with Google Maps. Just say, “Hey Google, find me a charging station” to instantly see nearby stations compatible with your car, payment type and speed preferences, along with real-time information about whether or not a charger is available. And with new support for thermal battery management, Google Maps saves you precious time by helping your car’s battery heat up or cool down before you charge, reducing the amount of time you need to spend at a charger. 

No matter what car you drive, we’re working hard to make sure you have the help you need from Google to get things done while keeping your hands on the wheel and eyes on the road. 

Our favorite 10 new things coming to Smart Displays

Every day, people ask Google for help with things like catching up on their favorite shows, turning on their garage lights, filling their homes with relaxing music, playing games and even keeping their family on track. As we expect more of our smart home devices, Smart Displays are increasingly becoming a hub that entertains and connects the whole home and whole family, all day (and night) long. 

Today, we’re introducing a brand new experience that builds on the smarts of Google and visual capabilities of Smart Displays. Here are 10 ways these updates make the whole day go a little more smoothly:

  1. A new visual experience to jumpstart your day.As you begin your day, just tap the new “Your morning” page to get things off to a good start. You’ll see things like a reminder for your first meeting, a run down of the morning news and a glance at the weather ahead. This page evolves throughout the day to reflect “Your afternoon” and “Your evening” so that the recommendations you see changes as your day does. 
  2. Entertainment for the whole family.Whether you want to listen to a podcast while you prepare breakfast in the morning or are looking for a TV show to wind down after a long day, the “Media” page will suggest videos or shows to keep everyone in the house entertained, while also offering suggestions from our music and video platforms like Disney+, Netflix, YouTube TV and Spotify.
  3. Control the whole home in one place.The new visual layout also has a “Home control” page, where you can control the connected devices throughout the house (so you can turn off the lights in the bedroom or take a look at who’s at the front door). 
  4. More tools for staying in touch and staying productive.We recently added more ways to stay in touch with friends, family and coworkers on your Smart Display with Google Meet and Duo—and Zoom is coming to Assistant-enabled Smart Displays later this year. Use the “Communicate” page to start a new meeting, call one of your household contacts or even message your kids in another room using a Broadcast card..
  5. Discover other helpful features.While the new visual experience is catered to help you manage your day, we know everyone likes to have a little fun with the device too. Scroll over to the "Discover" page to explore more of what your smart display can do.
  6. Now available: All of your accounts in one place. If you have separate personal and work accounts, you can now set up multiple accounts on Google Assistant devices to see and interact with all of your upcoming events and meetings in one place—without having to switch between your personal or work account. For example, on your Google Nest Hub Max, you can now quickly tap or ask to join your next meeting (“Hey Google, join my next meeting”), whether it’s a personal yoga class or a conference call.  This is now supported on Assistant-enabled devices where you can access your Calendar, like phones (Android and iOS), shared devices such as smart speakers and Smart Displays, and for Google Workspace users enrolled in the Google Assistant Beta Program
  7. Make sure you’re always in the picture.Meet on Nest Hub Max will now auto-frame to keep the camera centered on you if you move around. You can also customize how Meet looks on your Smart Display so it’s easier to see a specific person or details in a presentation with pinning, four-person grids and pinch and zoom—coming later this year. We’ve also added new menu options to give you the ability to cancel and reschedule Meet meetings right from your Smart Displays, and you can even send a message to let others know if you need to find a new time or if you’re running late.
  8. Dark theme, now on your Smart Display.Dark Theme changes the color scheme of the interface and reduces light emission, so it's easier on the eyes at night while still providing you with visual and touch access. You can also keep the classic Light Theme or set to “Automatic'' so that the display will adjust naturally based on the ambient light or when the sun rises and sets. 
  9. Choose relaxing sounds for drifting off to sleep.The new visual experience also features the “Your evening” page, where you can select from different relaxing sounds to make going to sleep just a little more pleasant. Maybe you prefer tranquil rainfall or the sounds of crickets, or you can ask Google to choose one for you. A sleep timer will fade out the sound, or you can let it play all night—go ahead, you deserve it.
  10. Finally, start the next day with the new Sunrise Alarm.With Sunrise Alarm—coming to Smart Displays soon—the brightness of the screen will gradually increase starting 30 minutes before your alarm goes off, mimicking the sunrise so you wake up naturally. You can also set different alarms for different days of the week and choose different ringtones for them (because who wants to wake up at 7 a.m. on Saturday!?). The best part? When the alarm goes off, you can just say “stop” without having to say “Hey Google.”

From smart clocks to TVs, new ways to get help from Google

One of the things I love most about Google Assistant is how it can automate mundane tasks like setting up an alarm or playing relaxing music, and how it allows me to control devices using just my voice. As more people discover the helpfulness of a smart home, we continue to work with our partners to bring the best of the Assistant experience to your favorite devices. Over the last few weeks, we’ve worked with some of the most popular brands to introduce new devices with Google Assistant that you can try out today. 

A smarter, affordable alarm clock

Smart devices should be easy to use, and it’s even better when they’re affordable. That’s what we set out to do with the launch of the new Lenovo SmartTM Clock Essential now available at major retailers like Best Buy and Walmart. As a follow-up to the very popular Lenovo Smart Clock, the latest version fits just about anywhere in your home, thanks to its smaller footprint. And its easy-to-read 4-inch LED screen display that simply gives you what you need to know: the time, day of the week and weather. Even though it’s something of a minimalist, you’re still able to enjoy all the features of Google Assistant. 

Whether it ends up on your desk or your nightstand, Lenovo Smart Clock Essential packs solid sound for its size and helps you get things done with just your voice. You can say "Hey Google” to set an alarm to kick off a morning routine, control your compatible smart home devices, set up important reminders, get answers to general questions or ask to play your favorite show on your Chromecast-compatible TV. Bonus feature: It has a built-in nightlight so you can get up at night without stumbling around. Just say "Hey Google, turn on the nightlight."

Enjoy Assistant on the big screen or on your wrist 

It's as good a time as any to get cozy with the family and binge your favorite TV and movies. To make it even easier to search what’s available, you’ll now be able to use Google Assistant on Samsung’s latest lineup of Smart TVs, starting in the U.S. and rolling out to more countries soon.

When you press down on your remote control’s mic button, you can use your voice to ask Google to change channels, adjust the volume, control playback, open apps and all sorts of other things. We’ve also made it easier to discover new content, search by mood, genre, actor and get personalized recommendations—for example, you can say, “show me funny movies” to find a comedy. Of course, you can also ask Google to do things like turn on different smart home devices or for information about the weather forecast, and you’ll get answers on your screen.

Samsung_TV copy.png

But you don’t always need this information on the biggest screen in your home. For the moments when you’re looking for quick answers with a flick of your wrist, you can now turn to two new smartwatches. Coming this winter, Google Assistant on the new Fitbit Sense™ and Fitbit Versa 3™ smartwatches brings more convenience to your wrist, making it easy to start a Fitbit Exercise, control your timers, manage your tasks or add something like hand sanitizer to your shopping list–all on-the-go, using just your voice and without having to reach for your phone.  

Music lovers will definitely want to check out the new Nest Audio available on Google Store and other retailers or Xiaomi’s Mi Smart Speaker now available for sale in India, both of which offer rich sound. And for the home theater, you can try the Bose Smart Soundbar 300, which comes with all the helpful voice capabilities from Google. And there’s more in the works as we’ll continue partnering with high quality speaker brands to bring Google into more and more homes.