By Josh Teder

January 14th, 2019

Video script

2018 was a pretty big year for Google.  Though we didn’t see a lot of new Home devices from the company we did get the Google Home Hub and other smart displays as well as a bunch of new Google Assistant features, some of which dropped towards the end of last year.  So without further ado, here are all of the latest feature updates. 

First up, Broadcast. 

You’ve been able to broadcast to all of your Google Home Devices for a good while now, but recently Google introduced a feature where you can reply to a broadcast, either from your mobile device or from a Google Home device. 

Here’s an example of how it can work: 

“Hey man, are you out of the shower yet, you’re going to hog all the hot water?”

“Hey Google, broadcast:  Just got out, but the hot water ran out.  Sorry dude.” 

Next up, Podcasts. 

If you use your Google Assistant to listen to podcasts on your Google devices or smartphone, you can now increase or decrease the speed of your podcast by using voice commands.  You can say “Hey Google increase speed, or “Hey Google speed up” or you can even say “Hey Google play at 1.5x”

Another new feature Google added that’s beneficial if you have Andriod phones in the house is that you can tell Google to silence all phones and it’ll do that. 

Next up, Chomecast and speaker groups.  You can now officially add Chromecast devices to speaker groups.  So if you have a Chromecast device plugged into your TV, it can now play the same music on the Google speakers you may have in your living room.  Previous to this, only Chromecast Audio devices would be included in speaker groups. 

If you’re unfamiliar with speaker groups, you can group any of your Google home and Chromecast devices together into groups.  You can do this by going to your Google Home app, click settings, scroll down to add…. then select “create a speaker group.”  Select the title of your speaker, choose the speakers and then enjoy the magic of using your voice to play music on all the speakers in your group.

Next up, pretty please.  If you have the desire for yourself or for your kids to treat your Google Assistant device politely, this is the feature for you.  Just ask a Google Home device to do something for you using the interjection “please” or “thank you” and you’ll receive a beautiful response with a nice rewarding sound, just like this:

– Example

Next up, for you British and Australian transplants here in the good old US of A, you can now use Google Assistant voices with British and Australian accents.  One cool tidbit about these new voices is their using DeepMind, a British Artificial Intelligence Company owned by Alphabet, Google’s parent company, WaveNet technology.  I’ll drop a link below in the description if you’re curious about reading more on WaveNet’s speech synthesis. 

One cool new assistant feature for all you travelers out there is proactive flight delay information.  Google is rolling out a new feature to assistant where if you ask Google if your flight is going to be late, it’ll use a combination of machine learning and historical flight data to predict if your flight is going to be delayed, before an airline would announce it.  Whenever possible, Google will give you the reason for the flight delay, like an incoming flight is late, etc.  This information has been possible to get from Google Flights or if you visit Flight Aware, but having this information available from your Assistant makes it much more convenient. 

If you’re concerned about technology causing too much distraction in your life, Google has got you covered here too.  Digital Well Being was announced last year at I/O and is one of the most important initiatives the company has taken throughout it’s product and services suite, creating features designed to make you aware of how much tech you’re using and making easy options to get away from your devices and take a break. 

Digital Well-being for the Google Home devices revolve around Filters and Downtime, which you can setup in the Settings on your Google Home App.  Filters can help you place limits on certain services like filtering out explicit music or choosing what video services you want to make available to your household.

Downtime disables most functionality on your Google Home devices, while alarms and timers will still work.  Activities that began before your downtime kicks in will also still work, for example, if you like to listen to music while you fall asleep. You can schedule downtime for some of your devices or all of your devices and for different times on different days. 

Example

If you want to read more about Google’s Digital Wellbeing efforts, I’ll drop a link to their site below. 

Well that wraps it up for the feature updates, however, I do have some late-breaking announcements on Google Assistant Devices that are coming out of the CES show in Las Vegas that I wanted to quickly go over, because there are a lot of them!  I’ll post links to the things I mention in the description if you’d like to learn more about a specific device/feature. 

There are new devices coming soon with the Google Assistant including a Smart Clock from Lenovo which is a 4 inch Google Assistant display made for you nightstand and crucially, it doesn’t have a camera unlike the Echo Spot.  Another smart display was announced from Kitchen Aid and this one is made specifically for the kitchen because it’s waterproof, which is pretty neat. 

Also, and one of the biggest announcements from the event was that Google Assistant finally being available on Sonos devices.  No word on when that’ll be available but it’ll initially work with the Sonos Beam and Sonos One devices.

There were also some sound bars and TVs that now will work with the Google Assistant including Samsung.  Also new are two devices from JBL and Anker that will bring the Google Assistant into your car.   They both plug into your car’s lighter 12-volt port and you can ask it things just like you would a Google Home, which is pretty neat.  Both devices ship in the next month or two and as soon as we get our hands on one we’ll be sure to make a review of it. 

This leads me to talk about one of Google’s biggest announcements with that it’ll bring the Google Assistant into Google Maps on iOS, which is a pretty big deal.  There is currently a Google Assistant app already on the iPhone but plugging it into Google Maps where a lot of people will use it is a pretty smart move. 

Another new Google Assistant capability that debuted at CES like the new translator feature, which allows the Google Assistant to translate between two people speaking two different languages in real time, which is pretty legit. 

Well that wraps up the major updates out of CES but there were more devices I didn’t get to so I’ll make sure to link a great story from the Verge below that covers all the stuff Google announced in more detail.  If you liked this video we’d really appreciate a thumbs up and if you’d like to see more videos like this one, hit that subscribe button below.  For 6 Months Later, I’m Josh Teder, thanks again for watching.