Author Archives: Mark Regan

How to host a group video call to celebrate the holidays

This is the first year I won’t be celebrating the holidays in-person with family. I’ll be with my wife and young son, and like so many others, we plan on hosting a group video call to virtually “get together” with family and friends spread out across Ireland and England. Thankfully, Google Assistant can already help us make group video calls with Google Meet or Duo—and just in time for the holidays, an early preview of Zoom calling is starting to roll out on Nest Hub Max. So if you have a Zoom account in the U.S., U.K., Canada or Australia—whether it’s free or paid—keep an eye out for this new video calling option.

Because no one likes when their video call freezes mid-sentence, a good internet connection and solid Wi-Fi are a must. To help with that, Google Wifi and Nest Wifi just got even better by auto-detecting and prioritizing video conferencing on Google Meet and Zoom Meetings. 

Whichever holiday you celebrate this season, here are a few steps you can take to host your next virtual gathering.

Step 1. Ahead of the big day, create a Google Calendar invite on your phone or laptop and send it to everyone you’d like to add to your video call. You can add up to 100 people with Google Meet, so you have no excuse not to invite your second cousin once removed. If you’re planning to host your call through Meet, choose the “Add Google Meet video conferencing” option. It's also OK if your family members don't use Google Calendar—simply grab the meeting ID and share it with them via email, text or whichever way you keep in touch, and all they have to do is click it to join the video call with a web browser. 

Step 2. If you’re planning to host calls through Zoom on your Hub Max, you’ll need to link your Zoom account to your Google account beforehand. Just make sure to create your Zoom meeting ID first and add it to the calendar invite for your guests. 

Step 3. Use your Hub Max to open Zoom, Google Meet or Duo for your holiday celebration call. Just ask, “Hey Google, join my next meeting” to join the next video call on your Google Calendar. Or say, “Hey Google, start a Zoom call.”

Bonus tips:

  • Meet video calls are unlimited (up to 24 hours) through Mar. 31, 2021, so you won’t have to worry about your celebrations being cut short.

  • Choose which device you’ll use ahead of time—and try to place it near your router. If you have a mesh Wi-Fi system (like Nest Wifi and Google Wifi), your home will have smarter Wi-Fi coverage, so you may not need to worry about this! 

  • Did you know that Nest Wifi and Google Wifi users can make sure any device gets video calling preference by default? Just open the Google Home app (if you’re still using the Google Wifi app, you can easily migrate your network to get this feature), tap the Wi-Fi icon at the top and ensure that video conferencing is enabled in the preferred activities settings.

6 ways to use your voice to get more done

Whether you’re cooking, driving or running errands, sometimes we can all use a little extra help. While we can’t offer you another hand, there are a handful of ways that Google Assistant can be the next best thing, thanks to voice control. Here are six ways you can use your voice to get more done with Google Assistant on phones. 

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  1. Send audio messages:Voice-messaging is the modern day walkie-talkie. For me, sometimes it’s the easiest way to send a quick note to my friends and family. You can now send audio messages with Google Assistant on Android smart phones--without holding down the little mic icon. To get started, just say, “Hey Google, send an audio message” or “Hey Google, send an audio message to Paul saying I’m on the way.” The feature is available in English-speaking countries around the globe, as well as in Portuguese in Brazil.

  2. Get help reading web articles:Between staying informed and entertained, I find myself reading a lot of content on my phone these days. With Google Assistant, your browser can read web articles out loud. Whenever a web article is displayed on your browser in your Android phone, you can say, “Hey Google, read it” or “Hey Google, read this page” and it will immediately read aloud the content of the web page.

  3. Find restaurants offering delivery or takeout:Some days, it feels like I blink and it’s suddenly 5 p.m. On days when I don’t have time to cook dinner but need to get a meal on the table, I say, “Hey Google, find restaurants that deliver near me” or “Hey Google, show me restaurants with takeout.”

  4. Snap a selfie:I recently took a trip to Yosemite and wanted to quickly capture the perfect family photo during our hike—including the deer behind us. By saying, “Hey Google, take a selfie,” Assistant will open your phone’s front-facing camera and snap a picture on the count of three. 

  5. Call or text your best friend:I have a standing call with my best friend every other week. When it’s time to hop on the line, all I need to say is “Hey Google, video call Taylor.” And if I’m running late to our call, I can always just ask Google to send her a text by saying, “Hey Google, tell Taylor I’m running late.”

  6. Share your favorite content:You can easily share things from your phone with friends using your voice, like articles or photos. Simply say “Hey Google, share this with Taylor” and Google Assistant will share that link or image with the person you chose.