Google is now rolling out a new feature for Google Assistant – Routines. Similar to Amazon Alexa, this long-awaited feature allows users to club multiple actions under a single command. Using Routines, the personal assistant would be able to perform several functions without needing to generate multiple commands for each of them.
For instance, users will be able to setup multiple actions based on a phrase such as “Hey Google, good morning.” The phrase can be used to set functions such as turn on the lights, adjust the phone volume and thermostats, tell the weather and news, as well as checking your commute, calendar, and reminders among other things.
For now, only the Good Morning routine has been introduced, but more would be added soon. Keep an eye on the Google Routines support page, which shows the full list of the actions that are presently available. Other routines coming soon are Bedtime, Leaving Home, Commuting to Work, Commuting Home, and I’m Home.
With the “Hey Google, bedtime” command, the assistant would put the phone on silent, talk about the next day’s weather and first calendar event, set an alarm, adjust lights, thermostat, plugs, adjust the volume, set a sleep timer and even play sleep sounds. Another Routine, “Hey Google, I’m leaving,” would trigger the assistant to adjust the lights, thermostat and so on.
The Routines are accessible only from the phone and are unique to each voice. So, various members of the household can set their own routines. To access the new feature, go to the settings page in the Google Home or Google assistant app. In the U.S., the existing “My Day” menu has been replaced by the Routines feature. Google has announced that Routines would be available on Google Home and Assistant for Android and iOS.
Google Assistant’s new feature, however, does not support all Google Assistant enabled products. For instance, users cannot program the assistant-enabled washing machine to start while leaving for work, and neither can the smart remote turn on the TV as a user gets home. Google may add such support with the future updates, but as of now, no information is available on the same.
Also, it is not known whether the messaging capability would run on SMS protocols or something else such as WhatsApp, which could also be used as it has the needed capabilities. Google has added the term “and more” in almost all the routine options. Although there is no clear idea what the term could mean, possibly going ahead the search giant would equip the assistant with other controlling features such as smart surveillance systems or smart locks and so on.
Along with introducing new features, Google is also working to expand the reach of its voice assistant. Recently, the search engine giant released the Google Assistant on the iPad, enabling users to control their smart home, make calls, send texts, and set reminders and other functions.
Google Assistant first came to iOS at I/O 2017 after its launch on Android devices such as Pixel phones. At the time, it was available only in English, but now, Google has added support on iOS for English, German, Italian, French, Portuguese, Japanese and Spanish. Google Assistant on the iPad works similar to the iPhone with the only differences being the larger screen and support for iPad-only features such as multitasking with a split screen, notes TechCrunch.
Voice assistants have a tremendous scope of reaching out to more customers through mobile devices. This is one reason why Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa support a wide array of platforms rather than restricting themselves to just Android devices or Fire tablets. Recently, Amazon announced an updated Alexa app for tablets, including the iPad. The updated app would support Alexa calling and messaging features.
In a bid to reach out to a larger set of customers, Google is also allowing other companies to create custom commands when the assistant is built into their products. It means that a manufacturer of a smart dishwasher supporting Google voice assistant could add a command to “start a hypercycle.”
At present, Google Assistant supported devices can perform vanilla functions like “on”, “off” and “dim.” Additional features can be added through actions, but it requires extra effort from the owners every time they want to use it. However, by allowing manufacturers to add a custom command, Google aims to make its offering more flexible and also more helpful to the users.