It’s going to be a busy year for Android. Not only is Google expected to release a seismic new update for the mobile operating system in the form of Android 11 in August, but it’s also outlined three new features that’ll land on any smartphone with its chatty Assistant installed later this year. Here’s Express.co.uk’s detailed rundown of each so you know exactly what’s coming.
Google Assistant has enjoyed its Routines functionality, which lets users assign a multitude of different smart home features like opening the curtains, turning on the lights and switching on the TV to a single phrase like “good morning”, for some time. But until now there hadn’t been a way to schedule specific actions to take place at a specified point in time.
That’s all changing with a new feature for the Google Assistant – aptly titled Scheduled Actions. Releasing “later this year”, the new feature will let you command the chatty helper to turn on or off particular smart home devices at a set time.
That means you can bark orders into your phone like “hey Google, run the coffee maker at 6am” and, hey presto, the Assistant will ensure your coffee machine brews-up at exactly the right time. You’ll also be able to ensure that central heating or lights come on at a certain time – maybe as you turn down the drive on your way home from work.
Explaining the new feature, Google said: “With a new feature called Scheduled Actions coming out later this year, you will be able to ask the Assistant to turn on/off or start/stop a compatible smart device at the time of your choosing.
“For example, you can say, ‘hey Google, run the coffee maker at 6am’ And from within the Google Home app, you can control more than 20 new devices, including AC units, air purifiers, bathtubs, coffee makers, vacuums and more, all from one place.”
Later this year the Google Assistant will be able to read you web articles out loud so you can give your eyes a rest on the commute home while still catching up on the latest in current affairs… and tech news from Express.co.uk of course.
Android owners will only need to utter the words “hey Google, read it” or “hey Google, read this page” with an article loaded up for the Assistant to start reading.
Better still, the feature works in 42 languages, so content can be translated to whatever dialect you prefer.
Discussing the new Android feature, Google stated: “Unlike traditional screen readers, this experience is built on new voice datasets to create more expressive and more natural sounding voices, so it’s easier to listen for a longer period of time.
“There are many potential ways in which this can be helpful, but one area we’re exploring is reading webpages with long-form content on your phone—like a news article, blog or short story—out loud. From your Android device, just say ‘hey Google, read it’ or ‘hey Google, read this page’ when you’re viewing an article. The content can be translated into 42 languages, such as Hindi, German or Spanish.
“We’re also looking to include auto-scroll and text highlighting capabilities that help users read the text as it’s being read aloud.”
Google has announced two new voice actions that have been designed to boost the privacy features of the Assistant. If you’re talking to friends and family and see your phone has unexpectedly booted up the Assistant into listening mode, you can now utter the command “hey Google, that wasn’t for you”. This will delete any recordings that have been gathered by the chatty helper, so nothing you’ve just said is pinged to Mountain View.
Secondly, users can also now say “hey Google, are you saving my audio data” to learn more about privacy controls and how to change any preferences.
The two new features accompany privacy commands like “hey Google, delete everything I said to you this week”, that give users more control over what data is gathered by the American tech giant.