“OK, Google—help me put away these groceries.”
A digital assistant may not be able to help you with household chores yet, but spend a little time using the newly enhanced Google Assistant and you’ll quickly discover that voice-activated control of your smartphone is now easier than ever. And it’s available for many Android smartphones and for iPhone—as a matter of fact, if you’re using Android 6.0 or higher, you already have it!
You can use this handy digital assistant to control apps and devices, find answers to all kinds of questions, make plans, or carry out a variety of useful tasks. On Android phones, simply unlock your phone, hold down the home key, and you’ll see it open up. Say, “OK, Google” or ask a question to activate it, and you’re off and running!
Unlike the Android version, you can’t wake your iPhone by saying “OK Google” to the Assistant. Instead, you’ll need to add the app to your list of widgets. You can download it here. With the widget added, you can access Google Assistant from the lock or home screen with a swipe and a tap. Scroll to the bottom of the widgets you currently have added, and then tap on the Edit button. Find “Your Google Assistant” in the list and tap on the green button.
Once you’ve activated the Assistant, ask it anything you want. It will search the Internet or use associated Google apps to get you an answer or do the job you require. I use it to make phone calls, send text messages, or even email. For example, I just tell it “Text Hubby Be Home At Five”, or “Call Mom,” and Google Assistant takes care of the rest. It’s terrific for searching movie show times, or flight information. Say “take me home”, and it will use Google Maps to direct you to your home address. You can ask it to choose music from your phone’s library (“play me jazz”) and search your Google Photos to find exactly what you’re looking for (“show me pictures from the beach.”) You can even sync it to other “smart” devices in your home—a thermostat, a lamp, or others—and control them remotely (“turn off the lights in the kitchen.”)
If you’re new to using hands-free technology, or gave up on earlier versions, I highly recommend giving the latest Google Assistant a try. From waking you up in the morning to turning off your bedside lamp at night, it provides a thousand conveniences to make your smartphone an even more indispensable tool.