We’re not quite at Google I/O season yet, and with COVID still hanging around, Google I/O continues from last year in not exactly looking normal either. The good news from this, though, is that Google is already making some changes, and there’s some new features coming to Assistant which you might find welcome. For starters, Assistant Broadcasts are getting some welcome improvements. The feature – which allows you to send an audible message to each of your connected Google Home and Nest devices – has been pretty limited until now. You could only reach family members who happened to be in the vicinity of one of these devices – if they weren’t home, it didn’t work. Amazon’s Alexa solved this particular issue years ago, with Alexa Announcements reaching any connected device, wherever you are – I can still receive Alexa Announcements on my mobile even when I’m not home. Google is bringing that same feature to Assistant .. kind of. To access it, you’ll need to create a Google Family Group to make it work, and then you can receive broadcasts on linked Android devices and iPhones. If you ask me, Amazon’s solution is slightly easier to use, but it does – off the top of my head – require you to sign in with the same account as your Alexa devices; Google’s will let you use different accounts (provided they’re in your family group). Other new changes coming soon include:
  • Family Bell coming to more languages, including French, Japanese, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, German, Hindi and Korean
  • Family Bell ringing on multiple displays, not just one
  • A range of new stories, games and Easter eggs to find
If you need to keep your kids amused with productive songs, there’s some new ones too after the success of last year’s Handwashing song, including:
  • Hey Google, sing the clean up song
  • Hey Google, sing the go to sleep song
  • Hey Google, sing the brush your teeth song
These features, we’re told, are live now – so try them out and let us know what works best!