“Hey Google” Hot Word Now Available on Phones

Google Assistant

Since its release last year, Google Home has always responded to two hot words:  “OK Google” or “Hey Google”.  On phones, however, it has been “OK Google” since Google Assistant began rolling out to a broader set of devices.  That now appears to be changing.

Google has made a cloud side change for Google Assistant that now allows your phone to respond to “Hey Google”.  This change has been touted for months now, really since the October Pixel event where it was demonstrated.  The goal of this change is to allow users to have one consistent hot word to use and to make Google Assistant more conversational.

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Google Assistant Finally Coming to Tablets! (And Lollipop Too!)

Google Assistant

Google Assistant is finally coming to tablets.  The news came from Google today in an announcement that also indicated that the personalized assistant will be coming to phones running Android Lollipop (version 5.x).  To this point, Google Assistant has only been available on phones and only on devices running Android Oreo (v8.x), Android Nougat (v7.x) and Android Marshmallow (v6.x).

The first step in getting Assistant to tablets will be an update on the cloud side from Google and then, likely, an update to Google Play Services.  Once the update rolls out, users will be able to long press the Home button/icon on their phone to active Assistant just as they do on their phone.  It is likely just a matter of users doing the long press of Home until they see the Assistant opt-in page pop up.  It should also be noted that this addition of Assistant to tablets will only be for US English devices.  If you have your tablet set to another language, even an English variant, you will not be getting updated.

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Google Home Down to $79 at The Google Store

Google Home

Of all of my Google devices, Google Home is quickly becoming my favorite.  I use it for everything from catching up on the morning news, listening to music or podcasts, and getting information with a simply command.  With Google Assistant built-in and Google continually adding functionality, we are only now seeing the tip of the iceberg of what Google Home could be doing for us and our smart homes in the future.

Normally Google Home is $129 but through the month of December, at the Google Store, you can pick one up for $79.  That $50 savings would effectively let you buy a Google Home Mini (nearly two in fact) so you can have Google Assistant available to you in multiple rooms in your home.  The Home Mini is down to just $29 right now at the Google Store.

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Google Assistant on Home Can Responds to Two Commands at Once

Google Home

Google Assistant on Google Home has picked up a nice new feature that allows you to give it two commands at once.  To this point, when you wanted to ask Assistant for something, you had to ask it one command at a time, even if they were associated with each other.  For example, you could ask, “What is the temperature outside?” but you would have to wait until it gave you the temperature information before you could tack on, “Do I need a rain coat?”   Now you can issue those commands as one single command joined with the conjunction “and”.  Now I can ask, “What is the temperature outside and will I need a rain coat?”

Not all commands work this way yet and not everyone is seeing this new functionality.  It is a cloud-side change on Google’s part so it is a matter of it making its way to Google Assistant on your account.

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Google Lens in Google Assistant Begins General Rollout

Google Lens in Google Assistant

Google Lens, the visual search tool that the company announced this summer at Google I/O is starting to generally roll out to Pixel owners.  The new tool is embedded in Google Assistant and allows you to tap the Lens icon and then by using your phone’s camera, view an object, tap it and identify it.

The good news is that the new feature is rolling out to Google Pixel and Pixel 2 owners globally in the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, India, and Singapore but the device’s language must be set to English for the feature to enable and work.  You will also be prompted when Lens comes to your device to give it permission to access your camera.

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Google Home Adds Multiple Calendar Support

Google Home App

It has taken a long time – longer than most wanted frankly – but multiple calendar support has finally arrived on Google Home.  A cloud-side update is currently rolling out to the app that will allow you to have multiple calendars associated with Google Home and thus, you will be able to create events or get calendar information from Google Assistant.

The new feature is found in More Settings>Calendar in the Home app and you will have the ability to add or remove your calendars that you have associated with Home.  Further, you have the ability to set which calendar is your default calendar.  This is important as when you create an event through Google Assistant on Home, it will go to your default (unless you specify the calendar in the command).

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Google Assistant Now Available in Singapore English

Google Assistant

Good news today for those who live in Singapore and have Singapore English as their language on their Android phones.  Google Assistant now supports you!  The addition of Singapore English comes on the heals of Spanish and Italian being added a few weeks back and while the roll out of language support has been slow, at least some progress is being made.

For those of you who have Singapore English as your default language on your phone, there isn’t anything you need to do.  If you have Google Now on Tap, you will automatically be moved over to Assistant once it rolls out to your account.  You’ll know you have it when you long press the Home button on your phone and you get Assistant instead of Google Now on Tap.  This should work on any Android phone running Lollipop or later.

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