Tag Archives: Google Assistant

How one Googler is raising awareness around ALS

When you’re young, life is filled with a chorus of well-intentioned advice: “Work hard.” “Be brave.” “Follow your dreams.” 

And of course: “Be the hero of your own life.” 

When it comes to “heroes” I’ve found that even if you’re really lucky, then the person staring back at you in the mirror won’t make your top five. Heroes are those unexpected people who step into your life long enough to teach you something about grace, courage and persistence. 

For me, one of those people is a woman named Stacy Title.

A personal connection to ALS

I met Stacy after competing with her husband, Jonathan Penner, on season 13 of Survivor: Cook Islands. My friendship with Jonathan is one of the things I treasure most from that experience. In time, I befriended his brilliant and lovely wife, Stacy, and their two children, Cooper and Ava.  

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Yul with Stacy in 2019

Two years ago, Stacy was diagnosed with familial ALS, a devastating neurodegenerative disease that slowly robs a person of all muscle control. Her thoughts immediately turned to her children. Beyond the diagnosis, the real horror was knowing that each of her children has a 50 percent chance of inheriting the genetic abnormality that causes this disease. She was determined to fight and somehow spare her children this diagnosis—but she didn’t know how. No one did. 

As Stacy’s disease progressed, ALS took away her ability to move her arms, hug her children, and even to speak. She lost the ability to communicate except by using her eyes to slowly spell out words using eye-tracking technology, which would then be read out loud by an electronic voice.

ALS left my friend's mind intact but otherwise cut her off from the world, and it left a family cut off from a wife and mother—so I asked her if we could try something. 

Stacy, Jonathan and their children Cooper and Ava in San Diego in 2006. Jonathan had recently returned from competing with Yul on Survivor: Cook Islands

Stacy, Jonathan and their children Cooper and Ava in San Diego in 2006. Jonathan had recently returned from competing with Yul on Survivor: Cook Islands.

A newfound sense of autonomy and connectedness

Last spring, I went to Stacy’s home and set her up with a Nest Hub Max smart display and several Google Home Mini speakers. I also got her a subscription for Google Play Music and a gift card for Google Play Books. I didn’t know if any of these would actually be helpful to her. But as it turned out, they changed her life.  

Google Assistant on the Nest Hub Max understood Stacy’s electronic voice perfectly. Suddenly she could play her favorite songs, listen to the news or audiobooks, watch YouTube videos, and ask questions whenever she wanted. Using Google Assistant’s broadcast feature, she could call people in other rooms for help through the Mini speakers. Jonathan could also check on her easily from his phone using the Hub Max’s built-in Nest Cam. 

Jonathan and Stacy with their Nest Hub Max in 2020

Jonathan with Stacy in 2020

Jonathan, Cooper and Ava then installed Google Photos on their phones so that any photos they took were automatically uploaded to a live album and streamed to Stacy’s Hub Max. For the first time in over a year, she could keep up with what her kids were doing, and be present in their lives outside the confines of her bed or chair.

While far from a cure, these products brought back a sense of autonomy, connectedness, and enjoyment she had lost, not because of the tools themselves, but because of the moments these tools allowed her to experience. This was when it really hit home for me how much technology can help people.

Today, Stacy knows it’s only a matter of time. She endures the discomforting intervention of a ventilator and other systems, and lives for one urgent purpose: raising awareness of ALS so that her children will have a chance of escaping her fate.  

Raising awareness for ALS with Survivor

Last year, I received an unexpected invitation to compete in Survivor: Winners at War. This 40th season, now running on CBS, brings together past winners for the ultimate showdown. Though I was initially unsure about returning, I saw it as an opportunity to bring attention to Stacy’s story, and raise funds in a way that I wouldn't be able to do otherwise. So I returned to the South Pacific, and pledged that whatever money I earn from the show will go toward supporting ALS research and other ALS charities.

I’m grateful to Google for building technology that helps people everywhere. I’m grateful to CBS for sharing Stacy’s story and creating a fundraising page to support her family and thousands of other families in need. And most of all, I’m grateful to Stacy for showing me how someone can face the impossible each day with more bravery, persistence, and love than I could ever imagine. Because she reminded me that what’s important isn’t finding hope for her. It’s finding hope for Ava and Cooper and countless others who can still be spared this terrible disease. 

In the end, I think that’s the best way we can honor the people who inspire us: by helping build the future they imagined. I hope we can build Stacy’s future together.

Math gave Lilian Rincon a voice, and led to her passion

When Lilian Rincon was 9-years-old, her family moved from Venezuela to Vancouver, Canada. Lilian, who’s half Chinese and half Spanish, didn’t speak any English, and found herself as the only Spanish-speaking student in her ESL (English as a second language) class. “It was a very lonely time since I couldn’t speak with many people at school.” That struggle steered her toward a more welcoming environment: math. “Math is kind of a universal language, so it was the only subject I could keep progressing in without having to start from scratch because I couldn’t understand what people were saying,” Lilian explains. Her love of math led to a career in computer science, and today she works as a senior director of Google Assistant, where she runs the team that creates new features and functions for the product. 

We recently had the chance to talk to Lilian about her personal time management tips, how her team cultivates creativity within a productivity tool and even heard about some of her favorite Assistant Easter Eggs—right in time for International Women’s Day. 

What’s the most challenging part of your job?

Google Assistant is so complex; it’s the hardest product I’ve ever worked on, many people on the team feel the same way—but we are excited by that, too. For me, the thing that’s most challenging is prioritizing what I need to work on and how I need to be available to support my team on the projects they are working on—I'm proud that I can lean on them. And I’ve also realized that for me to be the best I can be it’s about making time for myself, whether that’s reserving 30 minutes in the morning for a workout or taking a quick walk in the afternoon. I can recharge, get a fresh perspective and set the example that we all need to have breaks and focus on ourselves. 

What’s the most rewarding part? 

Seeing how many people Assistant is helping and how much impact we're having is so rewarding. 500 million people worldwide use Assistant each month; in some places, it’s even available to people without internet access. It’s also been incredible to see how Assistant is helping the world become more accessible to everyone

What’s something people would be surprised to learn about you?

I started playing volleyball when we moved to Canada when I was nine. Although I could barely speak the language, I was able to figure out what to do. It became a lifeline in helping me make friends. I played through high school, earned a college scholarship and became the captain of my university’s team. 

Was it difficult to manage your time as a college athlete?

When you play on a varsity team, you’re getting up early to train in the morning, you go to class, then after class there’s more training. I didn’t have a lot of time to do homework or go to the library. I'm proud I kept my academic scholarship the whole time. When I switched majors from biochemistry to computer science, I ended up taking a year longer to graduate. During my fifth year when I was finishing up my major, I wasn't playing volleyball, and it was actually the most challenging year! More time wasn’t necessarily the thing I needed, it was focused time. 

Do you have any advice for women entering the technology field?

Look inward, figure out what you’re passionate about and what you want. You need to identify these things, and then tell your colleagues and your managers. If you don’t tell them, it’s hard for them to help you. When you communicate your goals and passions, people will step in to help you. 

How has productivity changed for you as your career has progressed?

Earlier in my career, I focused on execution and the day-to-day management of making sure the right tasks were being done and the right opportunities were identified. As I’ve become more senior, it’s more about being thoughtful about my time and making sure I’m focused on the important things that matter to my team and for the product. It’s really easy to get into a mode where you’re spending the entire day in meetings reacting to things, but it becomes much more important to be more proactive and less reactive. 

Do you have any favorite Google Assistant Easter Eggs?

Yes! Too many of them, to be honest. I love the simple ones like “Hey Google, can you beat box?” or “Hey Google, can you rap?” But then we have some really cool temporal ones, too. For International Women’s Day, we have some amazing stories from Google Assistant if you say,  “Hey Google, Happy International Women’s Day” or “Hey Google, tell me about an inspiring woman.” 

Has there been a feature that people were more excited about than you thought they would be?

Yes, interpreter mode, our real-time language translation feature. This was something we announced at CES 2019, and rolled out on phones at the end of last year. I was in New York showing press, and we were overwhelmed—in a good way—at their reactions. People were like, “wow this is incredible!” 

For me, it was important to bring translation features to Assistant because I went through a point in my life where I really couldn’t communicate, where I couldn’t be heard.  I couldn’t be understood by others and I also couldn’t understand what they were saying—which felt crippling. For me, it’s a personal thing. 

Hey Google, tell me about an inspiring woman

Honoring the bold, brave and brilliant women who have influenced our lives is not limited to a single month—it’s a daily endeavor. But for Women’s History Month, Google Assistant and Google Arts & Culture are doing something special. 

When you wish your Assistant "Happy International Women's Day," you’ll learn about one of twelve extraordinary women like Dolores Huerta (an American labor rights activist), Savitribai Phule (often called the mother of Indian feminism), Rachel Carson (an American marine biologist, conservationist and author) and Dr. Kakenya Ntaiya (an activist empowering girls to access education in Kenya). For additional stories about female trailblazers, visit g.co/womeninculture.

Celebrate with your Google Assistant all month long by asking your smart speaker, Smart Display (like Nest Hub Max) or phone (Android and iOS):

  • “Hey Google, Happy International Women’s Day”

  • “Hey Google, tell me about an inspiring woman” 

  • “Hey Google, tell me quotes from inspiring women”

Google Assistant_IWD Phone.png

And if you’re looking for ways to connect with the women in your life (or treat yourself!), get a little help by asking your Assistant:

  • “Hey Google, play a podcast about inspirational women”

  • "Hey Google, talk like Issa" to get Issa Rae’s cameo voice.

  • “Hey Google, call Mom”

  • “Hey Google, text Lisa ‘Happy International Women’s Day’”

  • “Hey Google, who runs the world?”

  • “Hey Google, compliment me”

Easier access to web pages: Ask Google Assistant to read it aloud

Think about how much you read on your phone every day: catching up on the news, scanning a new blog, finally reading the article that everyone is talking about. This may require reading a lot of text, which can be a barrier for people with visual or reading difficulties, or who simply need a little help getting through meatier articles.

With Google Assistant, your browser can now 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” it will immediately read aloud the content of the web page. To help you follow along, your browser will automatically scroll the page and highlight words as they're read aloud. You can also alter the reading speed and choose from multiple voices. Speaking of which, the web pages are read aloud in expressive and natural voices, aiming to use the same intonation and rhythm that you'd use if you were reading it aloud yourself. 

With Google Assistant, your browser can now read web articles out loud.

If the original content isn’t in your native language, Google Assistant can trigger your browser to read aloud in 42 languages. You can use the translation menu to select the desired language, and all pages will be automatically translated and read out in that language.

Websites don't need to do anything special to enable this functionality. Webmasters that prefer not to use this feature can  use the nopagereadaloud tag. If you’re a developer, you can add the ability for Google Assistant to read aloud content in your mobile app using Actions on Google.

With this new experience, we hope to remove language barriers and help a wide variety of people access information from the web more easily. 

Make the most of Leap Day with the Google Assistant

How many times have you wished for an extra day or even just an extra hour to get things done or simply relax?. Lucky for us, we’re getting that extra day this year--Leap Day is this Saturday, February 29th. 

If you’re looking for things to do, here are 11 ways the Google Assistant and Nest can help you make the most out of your bonus day:

  1. Play your favorite television game show:Just say, “Hey Google, play Jeopardy” to test your knowledge.

  2. Explore new eats nearby:Ask your Assistant, “Hey Google, find a Moroccan restaurant nearby” to discover new places to try. And you can see how long it’ll take to walk to the restaurant by saying, “Hey Google, how long will it take to walk to [restaurant] near me?”

  3. Have a killer at-home sweat session: Enjoy your favorite YouTube fitness videos on your Smart Display, like Nest Hub and Nest Hub Max. Just say, “Hey Google, show me cardio workout videos.”

  4. Finally learn to cook that new recipe: “Hey Google, show me recipes for spanakopita.” And if you need help learning a new technique, like making homemade puff pastry, ask the Assistant on your Nest Hub Max to put on a YouTube video by saying “Hey Google, show me videos for how to make puff pastry dough.”

  5. Get started on that book you’ve been meaning to read: Curl up on the couch or go for a walk and ask your Assistant to read an audiobook on Google Play. Just make sure to log into your Google Play Books account and say, “Hey Google, read [audiobook title],” and you’ll hear a free sample if you don’t already own the audiobook.

  6. Pick up a new hobby:First, learn a bit about your chosen activity by saying “Hey Google, find a podcast about painting.” Then, find the supplies you’ll need to get started. Just ask, “Hey Google, where can I buy watercolors nearby?”

  7. Enjoy story time as a family:Just ask your Nest Mini, “Hey Google, let’s read along” to access great books from Disney and Little Golden Books, powered by Family Link. 

  8. Go see a movie:Say, “Hey Google, buy movie tickets” to see what movies are playing nearby. When you select a showtime that works best, the Assistant can then help complete your purchase in only a few steps with the help of Duplex technology.  

  9. Find local events:Ask your Assistant, “Hey Google, what events are happening today near Phoenix?” for ideas on what to do.

  10. Take a mini road trip: The Assistant can help you get things done in the car whether you’re using Google Maps for Android and iOS, Waze for Android, Android Auto, or through the car accessory Anker Roav Bolt. Try asking, “Hey Google, find the nearest gas station” when you need to refuel--or send text messages with your voice so you can keep your eyes on the road. 

  11. Catch up on a little R&R … uninterrupted: Silence calls and notifications on your phone or Nest devices by asking your Assistant, “Hey Google, silence my phone,” or “Hey Google, set the kitchen display to Do Not Disturb."

Hey Google, turn up the love

Whether you’re planning to celebrate Valentine’s Day with your partner or best friends (or maybe it’ll be a day of self-care), the Google Assistant can help transform your home from forgettable to festive. On your Assistant-enabled smart speaker or Smart Display, likeNest Hub Max, just say "Hey Google, turn up the love” and let the magic unfold. The Assistant will play smooth jazz music and if you have color-changing smart lights, they’ll glow romantic red and purple tones. This feature is available in English across the globe.

Sweeten up your day by asking the Assistant:

  • “Hey Google, play romantic music.” 
  • “Hey Google, show romantic dinner recipes.”
  • “Hey Google, serenade me.”
  • "Hey Google, play a podcast about relationships.” 
  • “Hey Google, tell me a fact about love” to learn about love in the animal kingdom.
  • “Hey Google, Happy Valentine’s Day” to learn how to say “I love you” in 8 different languages (Korean, Mandarin, Hindi, French, Spanish, Danish, Gujarati, Indonesian). 
  • “Hey Google, do you love me?” to create a heartfelt poem with the Assistant.

And if you’re planning date night out on the town, the Assistant is at your service:
  • “Hey Google, show me some restaurants near me with a nice ambiance.”
  • “Hey Google, directions to a flower shop near me.”
  • “Hey Google, show me movie times.” 
No matter how you plan to spend Valentine’s Day, the Assistant can help you add a little love. 💕

Lights, camera, red carpet-ready with Search and the Assistant

The silver screen’s big night is right around the corner. Ahead of this year’s Academy Awards, we’re sharing six ways Search and the Assistant can help you stay red carpet ready.

1. Find helpful Oscars info with Search:To keep you updated on the award show, we’re launching a dedicated experience in Search. Starting today, when you search “Oscars 2020” on your phone you can explore the Oscars’ history, including past category winners, and see a full list of this year’s nominees. You can also refresh your memory on the award show careers of your favorite actress or actor. Search their name plus “Oscars” to find out.

If you’re looking for a photo of your favorite star from the red carpet, funny moments or acceptance speeches, you’ll be able to find live images from Getty and video highlights from ABC right on Search. Throughout the show, the list of winners in each category will be updated in Search as well.

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2. Hear from nominees with Cameos: Watch short-form videos from nominees, from film editors to costume designers, when you search “Oscars 2020.” They discuss their craft and answer questions about what it’s like to be up for an Oscar.

3. Find Oscar-nominated films (and where to watch them!):If you need to brush up on the Oscar-nominated films before Sunday’s award show, just search “what to watch.” You’ll see a dedicated category with 2020 Oscar nominees and the platforms you can watch them on. Get ready to binge watch some great movies.

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4. Keep up with the Trends:Leading up to, during, and after the Oscars, you can check out our Google Trends page for the latest questions and trends on your favorite movies, actors, actresses, directors, and more. Here's how the Best Picture nominees are being searched.

Oscars Trends GIF.gif
5. Ask the Google Assistant:Have a question about the Oscars? The Assistant can help you keep you in-the-know as the red carpet rolls out on Sunday. Simply ask: 
  • “Hey Google, when are the Oscars?” 
  • “Hey Google, who’s nominated for Best Actress in a leading role?" 
  • “Hey Google, who’s nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars?” to hear the nominees. You can also follow up with, “Who’s going to win Best Picture?” to learn the Assistant’s prediction.
  • Itching to win an award yourself? 🏆Simply say, “Hey Google, give me an award” and the Assistant will hand out its own custom awards--like Best Actor in a Dialogue with the Google Assistant.

6. See and share the Oscars’ GIF-able moments:Tenor, Google’s visual expression search engine, will be live at the Oscars to capture the event in GIF form. To find and share your favorite red carpet sashay or award speech moment, just search #oscars on Tenor in theGIF Keyboard app or visit theofficial Oscars page on Tenor.

Sunday night will surely be filled with Hollywood glamor. Search and the Assistant are here to keep you up-to-date on all things glitz and gold (trophies).

Source: Search

Ask the Google Assistant to find your keys with Tile

Here's a scenario that happens in my house about three times a week. I'm in a rush to get out the door, and then realize that I can’t find my car keys. I check underneath the sofa cushions, pick through the pockets of my pants from the day before, and turn my bag inside out, only to realize the keys are hiding behind the stack of mail.

Now, the Google Assistant can help me keep track of my keys—it works with Tile to help you quickly find your things just by asking. Tile is a Bluetooth tracker that you can attach to things that are easy to lose  including your keys, wallet or remote. You can use the Assistant on any Nest device, like the Nest Mini or Nest Hub, to ring your Tile, or check your Tile’s last seen location. Ring your Tile by saying: “Hey Google, ring my laptop” or “Hey Google, make my backpack ring”. Or, you can ask the location of your Tile by saying: “Hey Google, where is my purse: or “Hey Google, find my passport.”

If the Tile is at home, you can use your Nest device to determine the last location your Tile was seen. For example, you may get a response like “Your keys were last seen today at 9pm near the Kitchen speaker.” And if you left your Tile somewhere else, the Assistant will tell you the street address of where your Tile was last seen based on Tile’s location services. 

To get started, open up the Google Home app to set up your Tile with the Assistant. 

Gear up for the Big Game with Search and the Assistant

Huddle up, football fans! It’s almost game time. This Sunday, people around the country will gather to watch Kansas City and San Francisco face off in the biggest football game of the year. We took a look at Google Trends data to see the top questions, recipes and topics people are searching for. Fun fact: Search interest in Roman numerals spikes every year at this time (and this year roman numeral LIV is no exception) .

While the teams get ready to go head to head, Search and the Google Assistant can provide  information about Sunday’s showdown, help you prep your game day appetizers, give you fun ideas for your watch party, and keep you updated with the latest plays during the game. Score!

Football fan face-off

Our two conference champions are causing chatter across the U.S. Search interest in both San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs have reached an all-time high. What team will you cheer for this Sunday?
Most Searched Teams.png

And football isn’t the only thing we’re excited for. This year’s halftime artists are ready to “Get Right” and put on an amazing show—here are their most-searched songs in the U.S. over the past five years.

Most searched Jennifer Lopez songs

  • I’m Real

  • Get Right

  • Dinero

  • Waiting for Tonight

  • Ain’t Your Mama’

Most searched Shakira songs

  • Waka Waka

  • Try Everything

  • Chantaje

  • Whenever, Wherever

  • She Wolf

For some nostalgia, we took a look at the most-searched halftime performances in the U.S. since 2004. Talk about a top-notch lineup. 

  • Bruno Mars

  • Janet Jackson

  • Maroon 5

  • Lady Gaga

  • Beyonce

Game Day goodies

From white chicken chili to football cookies, this year’s most uniquely-searched game day recipes in each state will have your mouth watering. And with the Google Assistant, you can get step-by-step help cooking on Smart Displays, like Nest Hub Max. Get started by saying, “Hey Google, show me recipes for seven layer dip.”

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Uniquely-searched recipes per state as compared to the U.S.

No matter what team you’re cheering for, yummy food is something we can all agree on. Here are the top five most-searched game day foods since 2004 (buffalo chicken dip is the G.O.A.T. of snacks!).

  • Buffalo chicken dip

  • 7 layer dip

  • Chili

  • Spinach artichoke dip

  • Taco dip

Get in the game with the Assistant

The Assistant can keep you updated on the event or bring more fun to your watch party. Start by asking, “Hey Google …”: 

  • "Watch FOX on YouTube TV” to have your Assistant play the big game on Smart Displays, like Nest Hub Max.

  • “Who do you think will win the big game?” to hear the Assistant’s prediction.

  • “Help me talk like a football fan” for tips to sound like a pro—even if you don’t usually watch football. 

  • “Tell me a football joke” for a few laughs.

  • “Touchdown!” to add to the celebration when your team scores.

No matter what you’re searching for, Search and the Google Assistant can be your game day champion. For the latest on what people are searching for this weekend, see our Google Trends page

Source: Search

Data Privacy Day: seven ways we protect your privacy

Keeping you safe online is a top priority at Google, especially for the thousands of Googlers who work on privacy and security around the world. Today on Data Privacy Day, we’re sharing some of the many ways we keep you safe online and across our products—from built-in protections to easy tools that keep you in control of your privacy.

1. Keep your passwords safe

Password Manager in your Google Account helps you remember and securely store strong passwords for all your online accounts. With Password Checkup, one click will tell you if any of your passwords are weak—whether you’ve reused them across multiple sites, or if we've discovered they’ve been compromised in a third-party data breach—and we’ll give you the link to change them.

2. Let Google automatically delete your data

With auto-delete for Location History, Web & App Activity and YouTube History, you can choose to have Google automatically delete your activity and location history every 3 or 18 months. You can also control what data is saved in your account with easy on/off controls in your Google Account, and even delete your data by date, product, and topic.

3. Use your favorite Google apps in Incognito mode

Incognito mode has been one of our most popular privacy controls since it launched with Chrome in 2008, and last year we added it to YouTube and Google Maps. Tap from your profile picture to easily turn it on or off. When you turn on Incognito mode in Maps, your activity—like the places you search or get directions to—won’t be saved to your Google Account. When you turn off Incognito mode, you’ll return to a personalized Google Maps experience with restaurant recommendations, information about your commute, and other features tailored to you.

4. Try hands-free privacy controls with the Google Assistant

You can also manage your privacy settings with help from the Assistant. Just say, “Hey Google, delete everything I said to you last week” to delete Assistant activity from your Google Account, or “Hey Google, that wasn’t for you,” to tell the Assistant to forget what it heard if the Assistant responds to something that wasn’t actually a question or request. And to learn how Google keeps your data private and secure, just ask, “Hey Google, how do you keep my data safe?” 

5. Browse the web safely with Chrome

Safe Browsing in Chrome automatically protects you from malicious ads and warns you before you visit dangerous sites or download suspicious files. If you use Chrome, your password protections are automatically built-in. We’ll warn you if your username and password have been compromised in a known breach as you log into websites.

6. Check in on your privacy settings across your apps and devices

Data Privacy Day is a great time to check in on your privacy and security settings. Take a Privacy Checkup and we’ll walk you through key privacy settings step-by-step. You can do things like choose what data—such as your location and search history—gets saved to your Google Account or control what ads you see. When you’re finished, head over to Security Checkup for personalized recommendations to help protect your data and devices, like managing which third-party apps have access to your account data.

7. Control what ads you see from Google

We do not sell your personal information to anyone and give you transparency, choice and control over how your information is used. If you’re curious about why you’re seeing an ad, you can click on Why this ad for more information. If you no longer find a specific ad relevant, you can choose to block that ad by using the Mute this ad control. And you can always control the kinds of ads you see, or turn off ads personalization any time in yourAd Settings.  

No matter how you use our products, it’s our responsibility to keep your data private and secure. That’s why we work every day to build the best privacy experiences and strongest protections, and we’ll continue our ongoing efforts to make privacy and security simpler for you.