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Google Assistant: 5 useful tricks to try

When it comes to smart assistants, we tend to hear about Alexa more often than other options on the market. But while Alexa can admittedly do some pretty cool things, so can other smart assistants.

Take Google Assistant, for instance. We got a little taste of Google Assistant during a Super Bowl commercial that had everyone in their feelings last year. It depicted the bittersweet story of a man using Google Assistant to come to terms with the loss of his wife, Loretta.

That commercial was both inspirational and heartwarming and had the internet abuzz for days after, but Google Assistant can do a lot more than what was depicted. Your Google Assistant actually has tons of uses, some of which you may not even be familiar with. Let’s take a look at five of them.

Practical things Google Assistant can do

We’ve seen what Google Assistant did for Loretta’s husband: it reminded him of all the things he loved about his wife. It was a clever way to depict what smart speakers can be used for. But what other unique features are offered with your Google Assistant? Well, the answer is, a lot.

1. Location-based reminders

One of the coolest lesser-known features of Google Assistant is location-based reminders. Those of us who tend to be forgetful can get a little reminder or 20 from Google Assistant, even when we’re out and about.

Let’s say you need to be reminded to pick up a certain type of sauce or specific item while you’re running errands. You can actually set your Google Assistant up with location-based reminders, which will remind you to do something when you get to a specific location.

Or, let’s say you need to remember to remind your child to grab their homework folder after school. Well, you can set up Google Assistant in your home to send you a reminder once you get to the school. The alert will be triggered by your location on the GPS of your phone.

You’ll want to start by setting up specific locations in Google Maps so you can reference those locations in your reminders. You can also use general locations, like “elementary school” or “Starbucks,” but it’s easier if you set specific locations instead. Tap or click here to find out how to save favorite locations and other Google Maps tricks.

Once your locations are set, all you’ll have to do is say, “Hey, Google. Remind me to do XYZ when I’m at XYZ location.” Once you’re at the location you specified, you’ll get a reminder to your Google Assistant app on your phone.

2. Real-time conversation translation with Interpreter Mode

Try as you might, it can take a while to learn a new language. Still, there are plenty of scenarios when you need to translate a conversation from one language to another — and Google Assistant is a good tool to use.

If you’re traveling to another country or conversing with someone who speaks another language, you can use Google Assistant as your real-time translator. Google Assistant is set up to work with more than 40 different languages, and it works better than most of those third-party translator apps.

To turn on Interpreter Mode, all you have to do is say, “Hey, Google. Turn on interpreter mode.” You may also want to specify languages by saying something like, “Hey, Google. Interpret Spanish to English.” Once languages are set, Google Assistant will translate the conversation and read it out loud. You’ll also see a real-time transcript of the conversation on the Smart Display of your device.

3. Buy things using your voice from over 50 retailers

If you’re using your phone or computer to place shopping orders, you’re doing it wrong. Google Assistant is set up to let you use voice commands for shopping, and it works with over 50 retailers.

Let’s say you’re taking inventory of pantry items or paper goods and want to restock before the next nationwide shortage of toilet paper. If you’ve set up Assistant to help out, just say something like, “Hey, Google. Order toilet paper.” Google will use your preset preferences to complete the order. Pretty handy — especially if you tend to lose track of shopping lists.

Before you try this trick out, though, you’ll want to set up your personalization and payment methods on Google Assistant. Once that’s done, you can shop to your heart’s content. The only real caveat is that you can only order one item at a time right now. If you need both paper towels and toilet paper, say them in separate voice commands.

You can also specify the stores you want items ordered from. For example, you can say something like, “Hey, Google. “Buy XYZ from XYZ store.” Your Assistant will complete the order.

4. Send an audio message

You don’t have to stop and type out a text to send a message to someone. You can use Google Assistant to get the job done instead.

Let’s say you don’t have free hands but need to remind your partner or roommate to pick up something from the store on the way home. Well, all you have to do is say, “Hey, Google. Send an audio message to XYZ.” Once you finish speaking the message, it will be sent.

You should know, though, that the Assistant won’t ask you to confirm the message. It will just send a transcription of what you said and a note saying it was sent with Google Assistant. You can also use this feature to send audio messages through WhatsApp or other messaging apps by specifying what you want to use to send it.

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5. Read news, texts and webpages out loud

Trying to multitask but want to stay up to date on news? You can have Google Assistant read it out loud to you.

You can actually have Google Assistant read tons of different things out loud — not just the news. You can have Google Assistant read contents of a webpage, text of an article or the message in your text.

This could be especially helpful if you’re vision-impaired or have trouble reading small text on your phone or tablet. All you have to do is pull up the article or webpage on your phone. Once you have it open, say, “Hey, Google. Read this page.” Google will read the webpage or article out loud.

Your browser will automatically scroll the page and highlight the words your assistant is reading. And, if the speed is too fast, you can change it or choose from a number of different voices.

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