The Google Pixel phone comes with a robotic helper named Google Assistant. I’ve been using it for a week or so and find that it fits perfectly into my daily routine, even if the bot is not yet quite as powerful as Amazon Alexa or Apple Siri, in my opinion.
Recently, I spoke to a rep at Google who told me about a few strange things you can ask the Assistant, queries that might not seem obvious at first.
1. “What day is Christmas next year?”
The Assistant understands this sentence even though you’re not naming the year and you’re not using specific “trigger” words like “schedule” or “calendar.”
2. “Beyoncé on Instagram…”
One of the apps the Assistant can control is Instagram. If you have the app installed and configured on your Pixel, and you ask about a famous person like Beyoncé, the Assistant will show you the app with the user you mentioned.
3. “Give me a beat…”
The Assistant has musical skills, too. If you say this exact phrase, the bot will ask “a friend” to start making a beat, with swoosh sounds and everything.
4. “Navigate to my house…”
I’ve used this phrase a few times already because it prompts the Assistant to immediately open Google Maps and start directing you to the destination you want. You can ask Siri for directions, but there’s usually an extra step or two involved.
5. “What’s next on my calendar…?”
I’m a Gmail user and store all of my appointments on the Google Calendar app. That makes the Assistant a good match for me, because I can ask for details about my next meeting.
6. “Recite a poem….”
This one is a bit odd, especially if it’s an Emily Dickinson poem. The robot voice sounds a little like the one from the movie Her — e.g., someone who fills in the empty spaces of your life. For some reason, longer sonnets cut off about halfway through.
7. “Open Snapchat…”
The Assistant can also control Snapchat, so you can ask to open that app and then take a snap. It’s a fast way to open apps, because you don’t have to type anything or flip through your apps screen. Once more apps support voice input, I could see never having to pick up the phone for simple tasks.
8. “What’s your favorite kind of ice cream…?”
This is a pretty random joke. It’s not even funny, but it’s worth trying. If you find any more jokes, drop me a line.
9. “Take a selfie…”
Here’s a personal favorite of mine. If you ask the Assistant to take a selfie, the bot will switch to the front-facing camera, start a countdown, and snap the photo. This also works for surprising people if your phone is nearby and pointed at their face.
10. “I’m feeling lucky…”
I won’t spoil the surprise on this one. Just try it.