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Google Assistant is getting an update that makes it easier to talk to

Published Mar 8th, 2019 9:03PM EST

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Having a conversation that feels natural with a digital assistant is still not in the same league as a person-to-person interaction, but there are certainly some assistive technologies that do a reasonably good job of mimicking it. We’d put Google Assistant in that category, thanks to the natural-sounding voice and the assistant’s ability to understand a wide range of the complexities of human conversation.

Still, that’s not to say certain things can’t be improved, which is why Google is starting to add support for its “Continued Conversation” feature to smart displays like the Google Home Hub. Basically, it’s a way to not have to keep prompting the assistant with a “Hey, Google” trigger so that you can keep a conversation going.

According to Google Assistant product manager Bibo Xu, this is an optional setting that can be turned on to enable you to have a more natural back-and-forth exchange with the assistant. “After you initially trigger the Assistant with a request, the Assistant will stay active for long enough to respond to follow up questions so you don’t have to say ‘Hey Google’ as often,” Bibo explains in a Google blog post.

The feature can be turned on within the Google Assistant app by going to Settings, then Preferences, then Continued Conversation where you just hit the toggle.

Meantime, Google is also taking this opportunity to actually add a number of other related enhancements to smart displays, such as “Interpreter mode.” Say you have family members or some friends who speak different languages. With this new mode that’s now available, all you have to do is say “Hey Google, be my French interpreter,” and you can have a natural, easy-flowing conversation in dozens of languages.

Other fun additions and improvements include some small touches that are still useful, like making it easier to dismiss some cards on the display’s home screen when you no longer need them (just swipe up). It’s also easier to manage multi-room audio with the displays, as well.

Google’s new update means you can add your smart display to a speaker group, and play music throughout the house. There are also new controls for adjusting the volume of any device in the group. All you have to do is tap on the group name of the player on the screen, and that will get things started.

Andy Meek Trending News Editor

Andy Meek is a reporter based in Memphis who has covered media, entertainment, and culture for over 20 years. His work has appeared in outlets including The Guardian, Forbes, and The Financial Times, and he’s written for BGR since 2015. Andy's coverage includes technology and entertainment, and he has a particular interest in all things streaming.

Over the years, he’s interviewed legendary figures in entertainment and tech that range from Stan Lee to John McAfee, Peter Thiel, and Reed Hastings.