Google Assistant Can Now Find Your iPhone and Order Takeout
Google Assistant introduced new features this week, enabling the voice assistant to find iPhones, complete restaurant takeout orders, and design Routines, the chain of tasks tied to a single voice command. The updates enhance existing Google Assistant features, but refining the initial ideas and making them more widely useful is the logical progression and will likely prevent some future complaints.
Find iPhone, Order Dinner
Finding smartphones has been a popular Google Assistant feature on Nest smart speakers and displays for a while, but it’s been restricted to Android devices. Now, the voice assistant can help find iPhones or any other device with the Google Home app. Once users opt into allowing the iPhone to receive notifications and alerts from the app, they can ask Google Assistant on the Nest devices to find their phone, and it will start to play a custom alarm. And agreeing to accept the alerts means the tone will play even when the phone is on silent or set to ignore phone calls.
Google Assistant made a crucial improvement just for Android users as well, smoothing the process of ordering takeout from restaurants by leveraging Google Duplex. Android device owners can use the Google app to find a restaurant working with the tech giant and fill out their order from the menu. Once they hit checkout, Google Assistant will take care of filling in all of the location and payment information from their Google Pay account, speeding up the process.
“Over the last year, more and more people started ordering takeout and delivery on Google, and more restaurants added the “order” button to their Business Profiles on Search and Maps. To make online food orders even easier, Assistant can now help you complete your purchase in only a few steps powered by Duplex on the web,” Google Assistant senior director of product development Lilian Rincon wrote in a blog post.”At launch, we’re partnering with select restaurant chains and will be adding more across the U.S. later this year.”
Google Assistant’s other updates are focused on Routines. The recent sunrise and sunset start times for Routines have been expanded worldwide, operating based on the location of the devices. That’s important since latitudes can have wildly varying dawns and dusks depending on the time of year, and it would be annoying for an Alaskan to have their lights turn off at 6 p.m. just because the sun is setting in Florida. The voice assistant is also more proactive in advising users how to craft the Routines, making suggestions based on popular actions like a battery percentage check and the local weather.
Despite the turbulence of the last year, Google Assistant is not slacking on prepping for the Oscars. The voice assistant has updated its responses to when the event will be and who the nominees are and is willing to predict ‘a movie’ will win an Oscar. If you ask for an award, the voice assistant will go into an elaborate routine awarding ‘Best Smile’ or ‘Best Question asker, including opening an envelope and applause accompanying award show-style music. Like the other announcements, the Oscar responses aren’t new, just tweaked a little. All of the updates fill in some of the gaps in the previous versions of the features, rather than breaking entirely new ground. Still, expanding on what Google Assistant can already do is what would be expected as the voice assistant matures, at least technologically. The humor when asking about the Oscars is still reassuringly juvenile.