âTis the season and Google is feeling generous. Today it rolled out a bunch of new Google Assistant features, including improvements nifty to-do list functionality and a new feature that encourages you to be polite to your inanimate, question-answering bot.
Though the features are packaged as a âsurviving the holidaysâ toolkit, in general, theyâre more about home entertainment and productivity. Top of the list is what Googleâs calling âvisual lyrics.â It essentially turns a smart display, like theÂ Google Home Hub, into a karaoke machine. If you have a Google Play Music subscription, You can watch and sing along to lyrics as they pop up on a screen, though at a demo Google representatives were quick to remind me the feature worked for ânon-explicit songsâ only. So, like thatÂ one Lil Jon songÂ with the 329 cuss words and Ginuwineâs âPonyâ are out.Â
Other display-based features include replies for Googleâs recently launchedÂ BroadcastÂ feature. Currently, Broadcast lets you record messages on your phone and send them to any Google speaker or displayâsort of like an intercom. Starting next week, users will also be able to send replies. So if youâre at the store and want to scare your roommates by saying âHey Google, broadcast âYo Steve, you want some eggnog?ââ, they can scare you right back with a recording saying âNah, Iâm good brah.â You can also link up with a Nest Hello doorbell to spy on your packages and yell at your perpetually late mailman via the new two-way talkback feature.
Also rolling out today is Googleâs Pretty Please feature. Introduced at I/O, it reinforces polite manners. Youâll hear a nice chime and kind phrases if you use the words âpleaseâ or âthank youâ when requesting something from Google Assistant. Itâs aimed at helping children develop manners, but itâll also work with rude adults who verbally abuse their voice assistantsâaka me.
But the most useful and least glamorous features are the new notes and lists capability. You can say something like âHey Google, add Minions shot glasses to my holiday shopping listâ and the voice assistant will create a âHoliday shopping listâ with Minions shot glasses listed under it. You can also create notes in the same manner.
While none of these features alone is mind-blowing, all together they do make Googleâs smart home speakers and displays more functional overall. And considering I mostly use voice assistants to tell me the weather, I guess thatâs a good thing.