Google is bringing an update to its Assistant that includes a number of new holiday-themed features, as well as some new abilities for the company’s helpful digital assistant that are meant to keep us from turning into manner-less boors belting out orders to our gadgets. Like, “Hey, Google — play this! Do that!”
In all seriousness, various people and tech sites have raised legitimate questions about what our children are learning by the way gadgets increasingly encourage us to just bark a command and wait for it to be carried out. In light of that, the new update for Google Assistant includes, among other things, more cheerful responses to reward you when you have good manners — specifically, when you say things like please and thank you.
As noted in a company blog post today, the move comes on the heels of Amazon introducing a similar feature for Alexa earlier this year: “To help encourage and reinforce polite behavior, we’ve added a new feature called Pretty Please. Say ‘please’ or ‘thank you’ when using the Assistant and you’ll often be rewarded with delightful responses. Try ‘Hey Google, please play some holiday music for me’ or ‘Hey Google, please set a timer for 5 minutes.’ Your Assistant will often respond with something like, ‘Thanks for asking so nicely. Alright, 5 minutes. Starting now.'”
The feature is enabled for all voice matched users on Smart Speakers and Smart Displays starting today.
Of course, that’s not the only feature added with Assistant’s latest update. There are a ton of other holiday-related features, like the ability to say something like “Hey Google, call Santa” to be able to talk to Jolly Old Saint Nick. Some new Christmas stories have been added to Assistant’s story time feature, and you can also create new gift lists via Assistant in addition to adding items to specific gift lists.
Among other new features, synchronized lyrics now appear on Smart Displays when you play a song via Google Play Music. And the Nest Hello video doorbell also now works with your Smart Display to allow for a two-way talkback feature. Meaning, you can now talk to guests before letting them inside.