Google is adding four new Assistant features, aiming to streamline how its AI interacts with the smart home, helps with takeout orders, and even helps hunt down a lost device. A new “Hey Google, find my phone” feature works with all Nest smart speakers and smart displays – including the most recent Nest Hub 2nd Generation – to track iPhones and Android devices.
After giving the command, you should hear the phone make a custom ringing sound. That’s even if you’ve got silent or Do Not Disturb mode enabled on the device, Google says. If you’re an Android user you’ll be able to get the location system straight away, while iOS users will need to allow notifications and critical alerts from the Google Home app.
It’s not the only new feature in that app, either: Google has rolled out its sunrise/sunset smart home Routines globally now. They’re based on location, so that the Routine runs according to the actual time that the sun rises or sets in that particular place, rather than being pinned to a fixed time. You can also add an offset in either direction, such as having the Routine start only 30 minutes after the sun sets.
For example, you could set up a new Routine to automatically close your motorized shades and turn on your Hue lights when it’s sunset. Or, at sunrise, you could automatically have the garden security lights switched off. There’s the option for multiple actions triggered with each Routine, and you can set which days of the week it repeats and whether you get a notification that the Routine ran on your phone.
Routines is one of those Google Home abilities that is surprisingly powerful, so it should perhaps come as no surprise in turn that figuring out just what can be done with the system might be overwhelming to new users. Google is adding a Ready-Made Routines page now in the Google Home app, with suggestions for popular actions. It’s also supporting adding Android home screen shortcuts for specific Routines that aren’t triggered automatically.
Finally, there’s more integration between Google Maps, Google Search, the Assistant, and Duplex. Google’s use of the Assistant to make calls to businesses and set up appointments and more has been broadening over the past year or so – we’re also expecting to hear more about the technology at Google I/O 2021 in a few months time – and now Duplex on the web is being combined with “Order” buttons for restaurant listings in Search and Maps business profiles.
On an Android device, you’ll be able to search for a restaurant, choose “Order Online” and then select what you want to eat; clicking “Check Out” will automatically fill in the necessary details, tap Google Pay for payment information, and finalize the order. Initially, Google says, it’ll be partnering with select restaurant chains for that, but to expect more partners across the US to be added later in the year.