Google has quietly made a background update to Google Assistant that allows you to link your HBO NOW account to it. That means that you can stream content from the service to your Chromecast devices simply by asking Assistant to do so via your phone or Google Home.
HBO NOW is the stand alone streaming service from the premium movie service. It is $14.99 per month and is for cable cutters who do not have a cable or satellite subscription. For those that do have HBO as part of their cable package, the app to stream content on your Android device is HBO GO but that cannot be connected to Google Assistant.
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In the year since its release, there is little room for debate on the growth that Google Home and Google Assistant have seen. The smart speaker has sold well and with brains behind it, Assistant, has continued to grow in abilities on what it can help you with in your day-to-day. I’ve had a Google Home in my home office for nearly a year now and it is so integrated into my day that I can hardly see not having it around.
If there has been one challenge with Google Home, it has been the size. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not huge at just under 6″ tall, but it is noticeable if you have it in a bedroom or family room. That is where the $50 Google Home Mini comes into the picture. Standing only 1.65″ tall and covered in an elegant fabric, the Home Mini is designed to go into various rooms of your home and just be there unobtrusively. It is designed to blend in but remain always available and provide excellent sound quality. The Google Home Mini truly is for the masses because of all of this and a price point that is hard to resist.
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Google has quietly added a great new feature to the Google Home lineup: Sleep Timers. According to an updated support page from the company, you can now set timers to play music for a specific duration of time as you prepare for bed or have Home play that lullaby for the little ones. As with most Google Assistant commands for Home, it is pretty easy to setup.
The most basic way to setup a sleep timer with music is to say, “Hey Google, play (artist/genre/playlist) for (duration)”. If you are just wanting a sleep timer, just say, “Hey Google, set a sleep timer for (duration)”. You can also set up a sleep timer to stop at a certain time (say, 9:30 p.m.). It is actually quite flexible in how you set up the timers. While these fall under the category of sleep timers, you can use them for other purposes. For example, you could set a time for 30 minutes with mediation music as you meditate in the morning. Once the music stops, you know your session has ended.
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Google has made a quick and significant decision to disable to touch activation of the new Google Home Mini. The decision comes after reports of phantom touches activating the device with it listening or recording ambient noise or conversations without the users knowledge. The reports of this happening are few and far between but Google is taking no chances. An OTA update will be sent to all Home Mini devices to disable the touch activation feature permanently.
We’ve decided to permanently remove all top touch functionality on Google Home Mini. We made this decision to avoid any confusion and give you complete peace of mind while using your Mini. The update will be completely rolled out by end of day October 15, 2017.
This means that in order for you to access Google Assistant on the Home Mini, you will need to use the “OK Google” or “Hey Google” just as you do on Google Home today.
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Yesterday during the Google product event, a new Find My Phone through Google Assistant was demonstrated. Using Assistant on your Google Home, it can locate your phone by ringing it, even if it is in Do Not Disturb, so you can find it somewhere in your house. The question during the demo was when the feature would roll out to everyone?
The answer is right now.
The Find My Phone feature has gone live and now you can simply go to your Google Home and say, “OK Google, find my phone”. It will then identify the phone you are wanting to find (if you have multiple phones) and will then ask you if you want it to ring your phone at full volume. So long as you have Find My Phone enabled on your account and Android phone, the feature works – and well.
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With all of the announcements around Google Home and Google Assistant yesterday at Google’s big product event, it is not surprising that we are starting to see new functionality come into the products. One of the new functions that you can do with Assistant is send information that you have searched for to your phone so you can get to it while on the go. It saves you from having to do the search again from your phone.
How it works is pretty straight forward. On your Google Home, ask Assistant about something and then follow it up with “OK Google, send this to my phone”. For example, “OK Google, what was the score of the Rockies game?” Google will give you the sad loss of the Rockies to the Diamondbacks last night. As soon as Assistant finishes, say “OK Google, send this to my phone” and the results are sent to you phone via a notification. Tap that notification and you can get that information.
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At the Google event this morning in San Francisco, the new Google Home Mini was officially announced with availability starting later this month. The hockey puck style Home Mini is designed to integrate into the décor of any home without being intrusive. It comes in three colors, coral, chalk and charcoal.
Like Google Home, the Mini has Google Assistant built-in and works seamlessly with existing Google Home to make it available in every room. It can also be apart of the new Broadcast feature that is coming to Home so a message can be sent to every Home in the house.
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