Tag Archives: Google Assistant

The best of Google, now in new devices

Wherever you are and whatever you're doing, technology should work for you. This week during a virtual CES and Galaxy Unpacked, we were introduced to a lineup of new products that do exactly that, all with the best of Google built in.


Whether you're heading out or staying in, there's something new for you to get excited about.


When you’re on the go

The new Galaxy S21 series comes with a more cohesive Android experience and updates that make it easier to stay in touch with friends and family. From your phone, you can now mirror Google Duo to your Samsung TV, so video calls feel a little more like the real thing. With the Messages app, you can use Rich Communication Services (RCS) to chat over Wi-Fi, know when messages are read, share reactions as well as high resolution videos, and enjoy a more dynamic communication experience with features such as Smart Actions and spam protection (varies by carrier and market availability). A single swipe from your home screen will give you the option for personalized content with Discover, while our screen reader TalkBack has been revamped so that people with blindness or trouble seeing their displays can use spoken feedback and gestures to navigate their phone without having to look at the screen (varies by carrier and market availability).


We’re also working with Samsung to make it easier to manage smart home products from your device. You can control Nest devices, like Nest thermostats, cameras and doorbells, from the SmartThings app on Galaxy smartphones and tablets. See all your connected devices on one screen by tapping on "Devices" in the Quick Panel of the Galaxy S21. Starting next week, SmartThings will also be available in Android Auto, so you can do things like turn off your kitchen lights from your car’s display as you pull out of the driveway.


For parents who want a productive tablet that can easily be shared with their kids, the new Lenovo Tab P11 comes with Kids Space, our new kids mode that features recommended apps, books and videos to help kids under 9 learn and have fun. 


And to get help from your wrist, new Wear OS by Google smartwatches keep you connected wherever you are. For Android phone users in the U.S., you can send texts and make calls on Fossil's Gen 5 LTE Touchscreen Smartwatch without your phone. And Michael Kors Access Gen 5E MKGO and Gen 5E Darci smartwatches are a fashionable option for keeping track of your health and wellness, staying in touch with friends and family and even making payments.


You’ll even be able to leave your phone in your pocket when you’re outside. New headphones, including the JBL Tour ONE and Tour Pro+ and Kenwood WS-A1G come with help from Google. Simply press the earbud to send a message, access your calendar or change songs.


Of course, for those times when you’re perfectly happy...


Hanging out at home

Google TV will be available on 2021 smart TVs from Sony and TCL. Google TV is a new entertainment experience that brings together movies, shows, live TV and more from across your apps and subscriptions and organizes them just for you. You can ask “Hey Google, find action movies” or “show me sci-fi adventure TV shows” and browse a wide selection of content with your voice. In fact your voice can be used in all sorts of ways: Your LG TV (from 2019 models) can now be controlled by a Google-enabled smart speaker in 15 countries and six languages. You will also soon be able to control your Verizon Fios set top box by voice when connected with a Google-enabled smart speaker or Smart Display. And to do more on your TV, you can stay connected with your loved ones with one-on-one or group video calls with the Duo app on Samsung TV (an optional USB-camera needed).


New connected lights from LIFX, Nanoleaf and Yeelight now work with Hey Google. These new devices support Seamless setup, which makes it possible to connect compatible smart home devices directly through the Google Home app and a Nest speaker or Smart Display without the need for an additional hub or bridge. 


If you’re looking for an assist with cleaning up around the house, you can just say “Hey Google” to control the Smart MEDION’s vacuum cleaner MD 19601. To help more manufacturers bring voice capabilities like this to their smart home devices, we also recently launched the Authorized Solution Provider program. Our certified partners Tuya and CoolKit can now help manufacturers  build smart home Actions for Google Assistant. 


Whatever new device you pick out, Google will be there to help you get things done and get the most of your tech.

Source: Android


Guest Mode: An easy privacy control for your home devices

It's our responsibility to respect your privacy, no matter what device you're using. That's why Google Assistant is built to automatically keep your information private, safe and secure. By default, we don’t save your audio recordings and you can ask Google Assistant questions like “How do you keep my information private?” or delete activity from your Google Account by saying things like “Hey Google, delete everything I said to you this week.” 

Last year, we also added a way to adjust how sensitive Google Assistant is to the phrase “Hey Google,” giving you more ways to reduce unintentional activations. And as more people discover the convenience of smart speakers and displays, we want to make sure it’s as easy to control how Google Assistant works with your data as it is to play your favorite song.


“Hey Google, tell me about Guest Mode” 

Today, we’re introducing Guest Mode, another easy way to control your privacy on smart speakers and Smart Displays, like Nest Audio and Nest Hub Max. Just say, “Hey Google, turn on Guest Mode,” and your Google Assistant interactions will not be saved to your account. While in Guest Mode, you can enjoy popular features, like asking questions, controlling smart home devices, setting timers and playing music. Your device won’t show personal results, like your calendar entries or contacts, until you turn the mode off. 

Once Guest Mode has been turned on, your device will play a special chime and you’ll see a guest icon on the display. If you’re ever unsure if you’re in Guest Mode, you can always ask your device, “Is Guest Mode on?” Guest Mode will stay on until you choose to turn it off: When you’re ready, say “Hey Google, turn off Guest Mode” to return to your full, personalized Google Assistant experience. 

Animated GIF showing

More privacy for your shared devices

Recently, I was looking up new recipes to surprise my family with a nice New Year’s Eve dinner, but didn’t want those suggestions to appear on our Smart Display and spoil my plans. By turning on Guest Mode I could ask Google for recipes suggestions knowing that research wouldn’t show up in my history, and without having to manually go through my settings or toggle other controls on and off. When I finished, I turned Guest Mode off so I could enjoy my fully personalized Assistant and use things like my custom routine, which helps me unwind by playing my favorite jazz music and prepares me for the next day by reviewing my calendar.

Guest Mode can also come in handy when you have people over and you don't want their interactions with your device to be saved to your account. You or your guests can easily turn it on and off at any time. Whatever your reason, we know there are times you may not want your own Google Assistant interactions saved — the choice is always yours. When you use your Assistant in Guest Mode to interact with other apps and services, like Google Maps, YouTube or media and smart home services, those apps may still save that activity. You can find more information here.

Google Assistant is designed to automatically safeguard your privacy and offer simple ways for you to control how it works with your data. Try Guest Mode today on Google Nest speakers and displays in English, and we’ll be bringing it to more languages and devices in the next few months. For more information, just say, “Hey Google, tell me about Guest Mode” to your Google speaker or smart display, or visit g.co/assistant/guestmode. 

Here’s how Google Assistant lent a helping hand in 2020

As we look at how people used Google Assistant this year,
We hope these reflections may bring you some cheer.
From staying in touch to cooking a meal, 
It’s clear we find many of the same things ideal.

In 2020, it felt like many of us needed a little more assistance than usual. With more time spent at home, the ways people used Google Assistant evolved to accommodate new habits and routines—and to help with this, we focused on launching new features, adding new services like Disney+, Netflix, Duo, Meet and Zoom, and creating new tools for developers. As we close out the year, we’re taking a look at the most popular ways that people used Assistant, as well as some more recent trends. 


Lending a hand to families

This year, we launched Family Notes to keep the whole house up to date and running smoothly. We also introduced Family Bell, which launched just in time for the (mostly virtual) school year and was quickly adopted to help families stay on track throughout the day. Here are the top five bells set this school year:

  1. Time for bed

  2. Time for breakfast

  3. Lunch time

  4. Dinner time

  5. Class is starting

If you're enjoying time off from work or school, today we launched the ability to pause your bells until you resume your normal routine. Simply tap the “Pause bells” banner on the Family Bell settings page. Your bells will automatically resume once the pause period is over.

And the amount of requests made to Assistant for help with spelling, using the dictionary and translations more than doubled this year. The top translation request this year was for "I love you”—and the top word that people needed help spelling? “Quarantine.” 

(As a reminder, with their parent's permission, children under 13—or the applicable age in their country—can have a personalized Google Assistant experience when they log in with their own account, powered by Family Link.)


Finding ways to keep in touch

The number of text messages sent with Assistant more than doubled in 2020; currently, “Mom” is the most-called person with Assistant. Many of us also turned to group video calls through Zoom, Google Meet and Duo to host virtual celebrations, attend workout classes and to simply catch up with loved ones.


Spending more time in the kitchen 

Recipes searched with Assistant grew over eight times this past year, and thanks to quarantine’s baking trends, banana bread is still the most requested recipe on Assistant. And because baking calls for perfect timing, more timers were set in 2020 than ever before.


Staying informed and entertained 

Streaming entertainment helped us enjoy newfound time at home, and Assistant brought us even more movies and TV shows from Disney+ andNetflix on Nest Hub devices. We told stories, too: This year, the number of stories told by Assistant increased over three times. Try it out yourself by saying, “Hey Google, tell me a story.” 

In recent trends, the top music genre is currently holiday music, followed by country, relaxing music, rock and pop. And while many of us commuted more frequently between the couch and kitchen than to and from an office, we still turned to podcasts to stay entertained and up-to-date. The most-listened to podcasts on Assistant currently are: 

  • The Daily

  • NPR

  • Savage Love

  • Joe Rogan

  • Ben Shapiro

  • Two Princes

  • This American Life


Controlling homes and devices

Assistant was even busier controlling smart home devices this year. The most popular ask was to turn the lights on or off, and many of us also asked Assistant to adjust the fan, change the temperature on the thermostat, control the TV or launch a game on Xbox.

Today, we rolled out Scheduled Actions so people can “set it and forget it.” Try asking Google to turn off the lights in 10 minutes, or at 11:25 pm on the dot; or say “Hey Google, run the fan for 20 minutes” eliminating the need to remember to turn it off later. 

We also made it easier to quickly set up many smart devices, including lights and plugs—from Philips Hue, C by GE, Yeelight, Nanoleaf, Ledvance, ABL Lighting and Energetic by Yankon—right out of the box. Supported by Seamless Setup, you can now connect your new devices to Google Assistant right from the Google Home app in just a few steps. There’s no need to download another app or install anything else. 

2020’s been a busy year for Assistant, but we wouldn’t have it any other way.


Here’s how Google Assistant lent a helping hand in 2020

As we look at how people used Google Assistant this year,
We hope these reflections may bring you some cheer.
From staying in touch to cooking a meal, 
It’s clear we find many of the same things ideal.

In 2020, it felt like many of us needed a little more assistance than usual. With more time spent at home, the ways people used Google Assistant evolved to accommodate new habits and routines—and to help with this, we focused on launching new features, adding new services like Disney+, Netflix, Duo, Meet and Zoom, and creating new tools for developers. As we close out the year, we’re taking a look at the most popular ways that people used Assistant, as well as some more recent trends. 


Lending a hand to families

This year, we launched Family Notes to keep the whole house up to date and running smoothly. We also introduced Family Bell, which launched just in time for the (mostly virtual) school year and was quickly adopted to help families stay on track throughout the day. Here are the top five bells set this school year:

  1. Time for bed

  2. Time for breakfast

  3. Lunch time

  4. Dinner time

  5. Class is starting

If you're enjoying time off from work or school, today we launched the ability to pause your bells until you resume your normal routine. Simply tap the “Pause bells” banner on the Family Bell settings page. Your bells will automatically resume once the pause period is over.

And the amount of requests made to Assistant for help with spelling, using the dictionary and translations more than doubled this year. The top translation request this year was for "I love you”—and the top word that people needed help spelling? “Quarantine.” 

(As a reminder, with their parent's permission, children under 13—or the applicable age in their country—can have a personalized Google Assistant experience when they log in with their own account, powered by Family Link.)


Finding ways to keep in touch

The number of text messages sent with Assistant more than doubled in 2020; currently, “Mom” is the most-called person with Assistant. Many of us also turned to group video calls through Zoom, Google Meet and Duo to host virtual celebrations, attend workout classes and to simply catch up with loved ones.


Spending more time in the kitchen 

Recipes searched with Assistant grew over eight times this past year, and thanks to quarantine’s baking trends, banana bread is still the most requested recipe on Assistant. And because baking calls for perfect timing, more timers were set in 2020 than ever before.


Staying informed and entertained 

Streaming entertainment helped us enjoy newfound time at home, and Assistant brought us even more movies and TV shows from Disney+ andNetflix on Nest Hub devices. We told stories, too: This year, the number of stories told by Assistant increased over three times. Try it out yourself by saying, “Hey Google, tell me a story.” 

In recent trends, the top music genre is currently holiday music, followed by country, relaxing music, rock and pop. And while many of us commuted more frequently between the couch and kitchen than to and from an office, we still turned to podcasts to stay entertained and up-to-date. The most-listened to podcasts on Assistant currently are: 

  • The Daily

  • NPR

  • Savage Love

  • Joe Rogan

  • Ben Shapiro

  • Two Princes

  • This American Life


Controlling homes and devices

Assistant was even busier controlling smart home devices this year. The most popular ask was to turn the lights on or off, and many of us also asked Assistant to adjust the fan, change the temperature on the thermostat, control the TV or launch a game on Xbox.

Today, we rolled out Scheduled Actions so people can “set it and forget it.” Try asking Google to turn off the lights in 10 minutes, or at 11:25 pm on the dot; or say “Hey Google, run the fan for 20 minutes” eliminating the need to remember to turn it off later. 

We also made it easier to quickly set up many smart devices, including lights and plugs—from Philips Hue, C by GE, Yeelight, Nanoleaf, Ledvance, ABL Lighting and Energetic by Yankon—right out of the box. Supported by Seamless Setup, you can now connect your new devices to Google Assistant right from the Google Home app in just a few steps. There’s no need to download another app or install anything else. 

2020’s been a busy year for Assistant, but we wouldn’t have it any other way.


“L10n” – Localisation: Breaking down language barriers to unleash the benefits of the internet for all Indians

In July, at the Google for India event, we outlined our vision to make the Internet helpful for a billion Indians, and power the growth of India’s digital economy. One critical area that we need to overcome is the challenge of India’s vast linguistic diversity, with dialects changing every hundred kilometres. More often than not, one language doesn’t seamlessly map to another. A word in Bengali roughly translates to a full sentence in Tamil and there are expressions in Urdu which have no adequately evocative equivalent in Hindi. 


This poses a formidable challenge for technology developers, who rely on commonly understood visual and spoken idioms to make tech products work universally. 


We realised early on that there was no way to simplify this challenge - that there wasn’t any one common minimum that could address the needs of every potential user in this country. If we hoped to bring the potential of the internet within reach of every user in India, we had to invest in building products, content and tools in every popularly spoken Indian language. 


India’s digital transformation will be incomplete if English proficiency continues to be the entry barrier for basic and potent uses of the Internet such as buying and selling online, finding jobs, using net banking and digital payments or getting access to information and registering for government schemes.


The work, though underway, is far from done. We are driving a 3-point strategy to truly digitize India:


  1. Invest in ML & AI efforts at Google’s research center in India, to make advances in machine learning and AI models accessible to everyone across the ecosystem.

  2. Partner with innovative local startups who are building solutions to cater to the needs of Indians in local languages

  3. Drastically improve the experience of Google products and services for Indian language users


And so today, we are happy to announce a range of features to help deliver an even richer language experience to millions across India.

Easily toggling between English and Indian language results

Four years ago we made it easier for people in states with a significant Hindi-speaking population to flip between English and Hindi results for a search query, by introducing a simple ‘chip’ or tab they could tap to see results in their preferred language. In fact, since the launch of this Hindi chip and other language features, we have seen more than a 10X increase in Hindi queries in India.

We are now making it easier to toggle Search results between English and four additional Indian languages: Tamil, Telugu, Bangla and Marathi.

People can now tap a chip to see Search results in their local language

Understanding which language content to surface, when

Typing in an Indian language in its native script is typically more difficult, and can often take three times as long, compared to English. As a result, many people search in English even if they really would prefer to see results in a local language they understand.

Search will show relevant results in more Indian languages

Over the next month, Search will start to show relevant content in supported Indian languages where appropriate, even if the local language query is typed in English. This functionality will also better serve bilingual people who are comfortable reading both English and an Indian language. It will roll out in five Indian languages: Hindi, Bangla, Marathi, Tamil, and Telugu.

Enabling people to use apps in the language of their choice

Just like you use different tools for different tasks, we know (because we do it ourselves) people often select a specific language for a particular situation. Rather than guessing preferences, we launched the ability to easily change the language of Google Assistant and Discover to be different from the phone language. Today in India, more than 50 percent of the content viewed on Google Discover is in Indian languages. A third of Google Assistant users in India are using it in an Indian language, and since the launch of Assistant language picker, queries in Indian languages have doubled.

Maps will now able people to select up to nine Indian languages

We are now extending this ability to Google Maps, where users can quickly and easily change their Maps experience into one of nine Indian languages, by simply opening the app, going to Settings, and tapping ‘App language’. This will allow anyone to search for places, get directions and navigation, and interact with the Map in their preferred local language.

Homework help in Hindi (and English)

Meaning is also communicated with images: and this is where Google Lens can help. From street signs to restaurant menus, shop names to signboards, Google Lens lets you search what you see, get things done faster, and understand the world around you—using just your camera or a photo. In fact more people use Google Lens in India every month than in any other country worldwide. As an example of its popularity, over 3 billion words have been translated in India with Lens in 2020.

Lens is particularly helpful for students wanting to learn about the world. If you’re a parent, you’ll be familiar with your kids asking you questions about homework. About stuff you never thought you’d need to remember, like... quadratic equations.

Google Lens can now help you solve math problems by simply pointing your camera 

Now, right from the Search bar in the Google app, you can use Lens to snap a photo of a math problem and learn how to solve it on your own, in Hindi (or English). To do this, Lens first turns an image of a homework question into a query. Based on the query, we will show step-by-step guides and videos to help explain the problem.

Helping computer systems understand Indian languages at scale

At Google Research India, we have spent a lot of time helping computer systems understand human language. As you can imagine, this is quite an exciting challenge.The new approach we developed in India is called Multilingual Representations for Indian Languages (or ‘MuRIL’). Among many other benefits of this powerful multilingual model that scales across languages, MuRIL also provides support for transliterated text such as when writing Hindi using Roman script, which was something missing from previous models of its kind. 

One of the many tasks MuRIL is good at, is determining the sentiment of the sentence. For example, “Achha hua account bandh nahi hua” would previously be interpreted as having a negative meaning, but MuRIL correctly identifies this as a positive statement. Or take the ability to classify a person versus a place: ‘Shirdi ke sai baba’ would previously be interpreted as a place, which is wrong, but MuRIL correctly interprets it as a person.

MuRIL currently supports 16 Indian languages as well as English -- the highest coverage for Indian languages among any other publicly available model of its kind.

MuRIL is free & Open Source,

available on TensorFlow Hub

https://tfhub.dev/google/MuRIL/1



We are thrilled to announce that we have made MuRIL open source, and it is currently available to download from the TensorFlow Hub, for free. We hope MuRIL will be the next big evolution for Indian language understanding, forming a better foundation for researchers, students, startups, and anyone else interested in building Indian language technologies, and we can’t wait to see the many ways the ecosystem puts it to use.

We’re sharing this to provide a flavor of the depth of work underway -- and which is required -- to really make a universally potent and accessible Internet a reality. This said, the Internet in India is the sum of the work of millions of developers, content creators, news media and online businesses, and it is only when this effort is undertaken at scale by the entire ecosystem, that we will help fulfil the truly meaningful promise of the billionth Indian coming online.

Posted by the Google India team


2020 Google Assistant developer Year in Review

Posted by Payam Shodjai, Director, Product Management Google Assistant

With 2020 coming to a close, we wanted to reflect on everything we have launched this year to help you, our developers and partners, create powerful voice experiences with Google Assistant.

Today, many top brands and developers turn to Google Assistant to help users get things done on their phones and on Smart Displays. Over the last year, the number of Actions built by third-party developers has more than doubled. Below is a snapshot of some of our partners who’ve integrated with Google Assistant:

2020 Highlights

Below are a few highlights of what we have launched in 2020:

1. Integrate your Android mobile Apps with Google Assistant

App Actions allow your users to jump right into existing functionality in your Android app with the help of Google Assistant. It makes it easier for users to find what they're looking for in your app in a natural way by using their voice. We take care of all the Natural Language Understanding (NLU) processing, making it easy to develop in only a few days. In 2020, we announced that App Actions are now available for all Android developers to voicify their apps and integrate with Google Assistant.

For common tasks such as opening your apps, opening specific pages in your apps or searching within apps, we introduced Common Intents. For a deeper integration, we’ve expanded our vertical-specific built-in intents (BIIs), to cover more than 60 intents across 10 verticals, adding new categories like Social, Games, Travel & Local, Productivity, Shopping and Communications.

For cases where there isn't a built-in intent for your app functionality, you can instead create custom intents that are unique to your Android app. Like BIIs, custom intents follow the actions.xml schema and act as connection points between Assistant and your defined fulfillments.

Learn more about how to integrate your app with Google Assistant here.

2. Create new experiences for Smart Displays

We also announced new developer tools to help you build high quality, engaging experiences to reach users at home by building for Smart Displays.

Actions Builder is a new web-based IDE that provides a graphical interface to show the entire conversation flow. It allows you to manage Natural Language Understanding (NLU) training data and provides advanced debugging tools. And, it is fully integrated into the Actions Console so you can now build, debug, test, release, and analyze your Actions - all in one place.

Actions SDK, a file based representation of your Action and the ability to use a local IDE. The SDK not only enables local authoring of NLU and conversation schemas, but it also allows bulk import and export of training data to improve conversation quality. The Actions SDK is accompanied by a command line interface, so you can build and manage an Action fully in code using your favorite source control and continuous integration tools.

Interactive Canvas allows you to add visual, immersive experiences to Conversational Actions. We announced the expansion of Interactive Canvas to support Storytelling and Education verticals earlier this year.

Continuous Match Mode allows the Assistant to respond immediately to a user’s speech for more fluid experiences by recognizing defined words and phrases set by you.

We also created a central hub for you to find resources to build games on Smart Displays. This site is filled with a game design playbook, interviews with game creators, code samples, tools access, and everything you need to create awesome games for smart displays.

Actions API provides a new programmatic way to test your critical user journeys more thoroughly and effectively, to help you ensure your Action's conversations run smoothly.

The Dialogflow migration tool inside the Actions Console automates much of the work to move projects to the new and improved Actions Builder tool.

We also worked with partners such as Voiceflow and Jovo, to launch integrations to support voice application development on the Assistant. This effort is part of our commitment to enable you to leverage your favorite development tools, while building for Google Assistant.

We launched several other new features that help you build high quality experiences for the home, such as Media APIs, new and improved voices (available in Actions Console), home storage API.

Get started building for Smart Displays here.

3. Discovery features

Once you build high quality Actions, you are ready for your users to discover them. We have designed new touch points to help your users easily learn about your Actions..

For example, on Android mobile, we’ll be recommending relevant Apps Actions even when the user doesn't mention the app’s name explicitly by showing suggestions. Google Assistant will also be suggesting apps proactively, depending on individual app usage patterns. Android mobile users will also be able to customize their experience, creating their own way to automate their most common tasks with app shortcuts, enabling people to set up quick phrases to enable app functions they frequently use. By simply saying "Hey Google, shortcuts", they can set up and explore suggested shortcuts in the settings screen. We’ll also make proactive suggestions for shortcuts throughout Google Assistants’ mobile experience, tailored to how you use your phone.

Assistant Links deep link to your conversational Action to deliver rich Google Assistant experiences to your websites, so you can send your users directly to your conversational Actions from anywhere on the web.

We also recently opened two new built-in intents (BIIs) for public registration: Education and Storytelling. Registering your Actions for these intents allows your users to discover them in a simple, natural way through general requests to Google Assistant on Smart Displays. People will then be able to say "Hey Google, teach me something new" and they will be presented with a browsable selection of different education experiences. For stories, users can simply say "Hey Google, tell me a story".

We know you build personalized and premium experience for your users, and need to make it easy for them to connect their accounts to your Actions. To help streamline this process we opened two betas for improved account linking flows that will allow simple, streamlined authentication via apps.

  • Link with Google enables anyone with an Android or iOS app where they are already logged in to complete the linking flow with just a few clicks, without needing to re-enter credentials.
  • App Flip helps you build a better mobile account linking experience, so your users can seamlessly link their accounts to Google without having to re-enter their credentials.

What to expect in 2021

Looking ahead, we will double down on enabling you, our developers and partners to build great experiences for GoogleAssistant and help you reach your users on the go and at home. You can expect to hear more from us on how we are improving the Google Assistant experience to make it easy for Android developers to integrate their Android app with Google Assistant and also help developers achieve success through discovery and monetization.

We are excited to see what you will build with these new features and tools. Thank you for being a part of the Google Assistant ecosystem. We can’t wait to launch even more features and tools for Android developers and Smart Display experiences in 2021.

Want to stay in the know with announcements from the Google Assistant team? Sign up for our monthly developer newsletter here.

Ready to play? New games on your Smart Display

The holiday season is here and hopefully that means you’ll get a chance to relax. If you find yourself with some down time, check out the latest collection of games for Smart Displays. 

Just say, “Hey Google, let’s play a game” and Google Assistant will present you a collection of puzzles, word games, and even virtual pets. Here are some of the titles we’ve recently added:  


Calling all wordsmiths

I’ve always enjoyed crossword puzzles but have limited time to play, so I usually play Horizontal Crosswords, a fast-paced game that gives you fresh puzzles every day. You’ll see a series of clues and need to speak your answer before time runs out. There’s also Game of Words from Stoked Skills, in which you’ll be given six letters and need to use them to assemble as many words as possible. The longer the word, the more points you get. You can even compete against other players around the world and move up the ranks as you win.

If you’re more into fantasy-themed games, try Voice Quest from Doppio Games. You play a mage who uses synonyms to power spells and your voice to cast magic and defeat your enemies. Another adventure game is Power of Words from Just AI. Your mission is to save peaceful warriors from evil trolls and you battle monsters by guessing hidden words.

Looking forward, Zynga’s upcoming release Daily Word Wheel challenges you to solve crossword puzzles by unscrambling letters. As you play, your progress is saved so you can take a break and pick up where you left the game. . 


Solve challenging puzzles 

From Cool Games, the makers of Guess the Drawing, comes Daily Brain Trainer. Keep your mind sharp with quick daily puzzles that test your memory, reaction times, and pattern matching skills. Success unlocks even more difficult puzzles and you can compare your results to other players and track your performance as you improve. 

Soon you’ll also be able to try Brainwash Puzzle. Ready yourself as the countdown begins and a series of pictures flash past on the monitor. Find the common theme as quickly as you can to advance to the next session. 


New experiences for kids and families

You can also grab some time with an adorable digital critter. In My Smart Pet, your adventure leads you to a virtual pet that grows to understand you the more you talk to it. And since visiting an aquarium might be tough right now, you’ll soon be able to enjoy your own virtual aquarium with Hey Fish. Customize your fish bowl and take special care of its inhabitants. Also coming soon, you’ll even be able to choose Hello Kitty as a virtual companion. Help her choose where she should go and who she should meet. 

For some extra fun during reading time you can now say: “Hey Google, tell me a Shimmer and Shine Story” and hear content from the popular Nickelodeon series. Or, you can just say: “Hey Google, tell me a bedtime story” to see a selection of stories that’ll help you get some rest. There are even more educational songs, books, and videos just waiting for you to say: “Hey Google, Talk to ABCmouse.” (With a parent's permission, children under 13, or the applicable age in their country, can have a personalized Google Assistant experience and access these games designed for kids and families, powered by Family Link.) 


Discover more, more easily

We’ve redesigned the Games lobby on your Smart Display to highlight Featured Games, top-ranked games, and your recently played games so it’s easy to find your favorites again. You’ll also see cards and tiles on your Smart Display that launch great games with a single touch. Of course, you can always say: “Hey Google, play a game” and we’ll be here for your entertainment needs—through the holiday season and into the new year.

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.

A smarter smart home from Google and Samsung

So many products come together to power a smart home—light bulbs, thermostats, TVs, speakers...the list goes on and on. To make it easier for you to control all of your connected devices, we’ve been working closely with manufacturers to make sure your devices communicate and work across the smart home ecosystem. Coming soon, your Assistant and Nest devices will now interoperate more easily with your Samsung smart devices in your home.

You’ll be able access and control your Nest devices, like Nest cameras, thermostats and doorbells with the SmartThings app—and even through Samsung smart home devices, like smart TVs and refrigerators. Previously, you could only do things like set the temperature remotely or view your camera feeds from your Nest devices from the Google Home app, but now you have more ways and more places to control your smart home from (And interested developers can learn more about our Device Access program).

Nest SmartThings

More Samsung smart home appliances and devices will also soon come with voice support from Google. So you can say “Hey Google, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.” And we recently announced that Google Assistant is available on Samsung’s latest lineup of Smart TVs, making it easy to turn your TV on or off, change channels and control the volume without even getting off your couch or digging for the remote. 

Setting up your smart devices will also be easier: Samsung now offers simple linking with your Google Assistant right from multiple Samsung apps, including SmartThings to streamline the process. Plus, we’ve also expanded the Google Assistant control of Samsung devices across six new languages (Spanish, French, German, Portuguese, Korean and Japanese) to meet users in their native languages.

And to make it even easier to quickly control all your smart home devices, we’re working to bring one of our favorite features of Android 11 to Samsung’s new Galaxy smartphones. When you tap on "Devices" in the Quick Panel of the phone, you can choose an option among multiple apps and see all connected devices within the app on one screen.

Whether you’re starting the dishwasher or checking the porch for packages, Google, Samsung and SmartThings can make the increasingly connected home a little bit smarter.