Google Assistant and its Home speakers are getting smarter ahead of the holiday season with the launch of new features like the ability to create and manage to-do lists, teach kids manners, and share photos with your voice.
The ability to create to-do lists will only be available for Assistant iOS and Android app users, a company spokesperson told VentureBeat in an email.
Support to connect to-do lists to apps like Any.do, Google Keep, and Bring! is coming soon. Popular productivity apps like Microsoft’s Wunderlist can be integrated with Google Assistant today using IFTTT applets.
You can also share photos with Google Assistant using a smart display, like Google’s Home Hub. Say “Hey Google, share this photo with [name of contact],” and a link to a full-sized image will be sent via email, a company spokesperson told VentureBeat.
And you can quickly favorite a photo by tapping a star button on smart displays or hide photos you don’t want displayed. With a smart display, you can use Google Assistant voice commands to see photos of people or places, but if you use Google Photos album for the digital photo frame, you’re most likely to encounter photos when the device is in Ambient mode and not in use.
The ability to hide images offers a workaround fix for Live Albums, a feature Google introduced last month that lets you use facial recognition to create photo albums. As cool as this can be, Live Albums often leads to duplicates since it draws in all the photos from your smartphone camera.
Song lyrics that let you sing along or follow along are also coming to smart displays. Song lyrics will only be available for Google Play Music at launch. Amazon’s Echo Show also shows lyrics, but only for Amazon Prime Music users.
Google Assistant is also getting more polite today with the introduction of Pretty Please Mode.
Say “Hey Google, please play some holiday music for me,” and Google Assistant may say something like “Thanks for asking so nicely. Sure, here are some songs.”
Pretty Please is only available for users who enable Voice Match. Parents can make Google understand their kid’s voice by setting up a Family Link account.
Companies like Google and Amazon are pumping their intelligent assistants with new features as holiday shoppers interested in buying a smart speaker choose between a Home or Echo speaker. For Google, this has meant focusing on offerings for kids.
You can also now listen to Nickelodeon stories like Dora the Explorer’s The Little Christmas Tree and PAW Patrol’s Holiday Helpers! on Google Assistant, alongside an experience with Santa Claus.
Say “OK Google, call Santa,” and you’ll meet Santa in the middle of rehearsal for a concert at the North Pole.
Read-along books that play music and sound effects are also on the way from Disney movies like Frozen, Aladdin, Mulan, and The Lion King.
Last month, 25 read-along titles and alarm clocks with characters from Lego and Nickelodeon made their debut on Home speakers.
The new books, stories, and features made especially for kids build on the introduction last year of more than 50 apps and games for kids, featuring characters like Mickey Mouse.
Using Google products for communication around the house is also getting simpler, with two-way conversations for Nest Hello doorbells coming soon and replies to Broadcasts — voice messages you can transmit to all speakers in your home — due out next week. You can reply by tapping a respond button on a smart display or with the Assistant on a smartphone.
Other new features introduced for Google Assistant in recent weeks include Routines for automating tasks when you turn off your alarm clock in the morning and recipe and news video recommendations on smart displays.