Google Pixel

Google Assistant Will Stay On Hold For You

Google Assistant will let you know when your call is no longer on hold, freeing users of the upcoming Google Pixel 4 phone from mind-numbing hold music. The rumored feature is one of several improvements Google is in the process of rolling out this year according to a report from 9to5Google.

Google Holds the Call

The Pixel 4 has not yet been announced, though it is likely to play a central role in Google’s upcoming hardware presentation in October. The new feature will allow the user to select a button on the phone’s display when they make a call and are put on hold. The caller can then go back to whatever they were doing before, and Google Assistant will notify them when a human gets back on the line. It’s a small task in many ways, but solving a universal annoyance is a solid way to attract new customers. The program, reportedly called Hold My Phone, may not be part of the initial Pixel 4 feature set, but will likely be exclusive to the new model at first.

In some ways, this idea is the inverse of the call screening feature Google debuted at the Pixel 3 launch. That turned Google Assistant into a call screener. Users can even get transcripts of those calls enabling Google Assistant to act as the user’s personal secretary. Then there’s Google Duplex, another take on the virtual secretary idea, which can call businesses and book appointments for a user without them having to be on the phone. Combined with the pending Hold My Phone feature, Google Assistant could theoretically handle quite a few of people’s daily phone chores.

Google Assisting Everywhere

Google Assistant expanded its communication ability beyond native programs a month ago when it gained the capacity to read aloud messages from third-party apps. Making audio and video calls has been limited to Google programs like Duo and Hangouts. Now, Google Assistant has added hands-free calls on WhatsApp to go with the message reading.

Asking Google Assistant to make audio or video calls on WhatsApp only works on Android devices at the moment, but that could change as Google seeks to integrate its voice assistant into more of people’s lives.

At the IFA conference at the beginning of September, the company revealed its new Ambient Mode visual display option for mobile device lockscreens. Ambient mode turns a mobile device into a limited smart display when plugged in, setting Google Assistant to listen for its wake word without having to unlock the phone or press any buttons. Users can get notifications, turn on their music, or control any connected smart home devices, while the screen becomes a personalized photo screensaver. Though not as flexible or powerful as an actual smart display, it does create more opportunities for people to use a hands-free Google Assistant. And with the new, more powerful version of the assistant in the works that the company detailed at its conference in May, the voice assistant may be able to deliver on a good deal of its vaunted abilities without taking forever or draining the device’s battery life making it more of a help and less of a hindrance.


Google Assistant Adds Visual ‘Ambient Mode’ and New Devices

Google Assistant News Roundup From September and October 2018