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Google Assistant gives you more voice control over third-party apps

Published Oct 9th, 2020 6:50AM EDT
Google Assistant Commands
Image: Kyodo/Newscom/The Mega Agency

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  • Google announced new Assistant features that let users issue specific commands for third-party Android apps.
  • Android users can interact via voice for certain in-app actions on popular Google Play apps, with support coming to more apps in the future.
  • Google Assistant will also let users set up shortcuts for third-party app queries.

You can use your voice to interact and control various smart devices, including the smartphone, which is the natural home of Google Assistant (Android), and Siri (iPhone) — although other voice assistants can also run on these platforms. Google Assistant always had the edge over Siri when it comes to the kind of functionality it can offer, and it’s all related to Google’s business model. Voice will become an increasingly more important way to interact with computers, and when that happens, Google will still need to be at the forefront of search queries. This explains the huge investment in Google Assistant and the consistent upgrades the voice assistant got over the years. Siri’s abilities also evolved considerably on Apple devices, but Assistant still feels like the more complete voice platform between them.

Google’s latest addition to Assistant represents a neat new feature that will let you issue even more commands, as the digital assistant now interacts with more Android apps.

Google said in a blog post that Assistant will now let you open and search within Android apps using the well-known “Hey Google” command. The Assistant will support a variety of new commands tailored to certain apps. Here are some of the examples Google offers:

  • Discord: “Hey Google, send a message to Rachel on Discord”
  • Etsy: “Hey Google, search for candles on Etsy”
  • MyFitnessPal: “Hey Google, log a berry smoothie on MyFitnessPal”
  • Mint: “Hey Google, check my accounts on Mint”
  • Nike Adapt: “Hey Google, tighten my shoes with Nike Adapt”
  • Nike Run Club: “Hey Google, start my run with Nike Run Club”
  • Postmates: “Hey Google, order a smoothie on Postmates”
  • Snapchat: “Hey Google, send snap with Cartoon Lens”
  • Spotify: “Hey Google, find Motivation Mix on Spotify”
  • Twitter: “Hey Google, check news on Twitter”
  • Walmart: “Hey Google, when is my Walmart order arriving?”

Users will also be able to create custom shortcut phrases for some of the actions they’d want to trigger via voice repeatedly. “Instead of saying, ‘Hey Google, tighten my shoes with Nike Adapt,’ you can create a shortcut to just say ‘Hey Google, lace it,’” Google explains.

Google Assistant
Google Assistant supports new commands for third-party apps like the MyFitnessPal integration seen above. Image source: Google

Similar actions are available on the iPhone as well, where Siri can open third-party apps and respond to preset shortcuts related to certain actions. It’s Apple that might have an advantage over Google when it comes to the shortcuts feature. That said, developers will need to implement Assistant support for these features to be available. Google says that more than 30 of the top Google Play apps will let you do more using voice, with more apps coming soon. The voice commands are supported globally, as long as they’re in English.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.

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