44 ways Google Assistant can make you more efficient

Google Assistant has some genuinely useful productivity tools for professionals — and it's up to you to learn how to use them.

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27. Google Assistant can get around your Android phone (or, to a lesser extent, your iPhone) in a flash. Try telling it to open any app or website for a fast way to zoom where you need to go.

28. Why swipe and search through your phone's settings when you can simply speak your desires? Assistant is standing by and ready to handle most toggle-like settings on your Android device. Try telling it to turn Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, flashlight, airplane mode, or battery saver mode on or off or to dim or brighten your screen.

28 google assistant website settings JR Raphael/IDG

Assistant can zoom you around your Android phone — from opening apps and websites to adjusting common settings.

29. You can also ask Assistant to take you to the specific settings sections for areas like Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, if you need to dive a little deeper and check on a connection. Just say "Wi-Fi settings" or "Bluetooth settings" — or, if you're feeling chatty, add "Take me to" in front of those phrases.

30. Privacy and security matter more than ever, but finding the right page for different Google account settings can sometimes take a bit of sleuthing. Assistant makes it easier. Try these commands the next time you want to do an Android security audit or check up on all the things Google knows about you:

  • "Open my Google account settings."
  • "Show my Google search history."
  • "Open my Google privacy settings."
  • "Open my Google security settings."

Bonus: If the results frighten or overwhelm you, tell Assistant to "make a howling sound." It'll set an eerily appropriate mood.

Location and travel

31. Whether you're genuinely lost or just pondering your existential nature, try firing up Assistant and saying: "Where am I?" That'll cause Assistant to tap into your phone's GPS and give you a tappable map of your precise current location.

32. Provided you have the appropriate apps installed, you can ask Assistant to hail you a ride with Lyft, Uber, or other similar ride-sharing services — from a phone or even from a Google Home or Smart Display device. Just tell Assistant to "order me a Lyft" (or whatever service you're using) or ask it to "book a car" to a specific destination to get the wheels a-rollin'.

33. Get a heads-up on traffic before you head out by asking Assistant what the traffic is like on the way to work or how long it'll take to get to any specific business name or address. And, of course, you can always tell Assistant to give you directions or navigate (by car, foot, or public transit) to any place you need.

34. Traveling for work? Or picking up an out-of-town interviewee? Assistant can give you up-to-date flight info for any airline. Just ask when the flight arrives or if it's on time.

35. Google Assistant can even help book your next trip. Ask it to find flights from your current city to your destination, and it'll walk you through the best available options. It'll even offer to track prices and keep you posted via email if prices should change.

News and current events

36. Catch up on the day's goings-on by asking Assistant to "listen to the news." You can configure exactly what types of news and what sources are included by tapping the profile icon in the Google Home app's lower-right corner and selecting "Settings" followed by "Services" and "News."

37. Assistant can give you quick info on stocks of interest, too. Just ask it what you want to know:

  • "How are Alphabet's stocks doing?"
  • "What was Apple's premarket price?"
  • "What did Google open at today?"
  • "What's the market cap of IBM?"

38. Want to get regular updates on news, weather, or stocks? You can ask Assistant to give you daily briefings on any number of subjects. Try something like:

  • "Send me weather every day."
  • "Send me news every day."
  • "Send me Google stock price every day."

Assistant will initially show you the current information related to the subject you mentioned, but look closely: Beneath that info, you'll see a prompt asking if you want to get that update every day. Tap the "Yes" option at the bottom of the screen, and Assistant will ask what time you want the update to arrive and then set up your subscription. (If you ever want to review or cancel your existing subscriptions, just say "show my subscriptions" to access a complete list.)

38 google assistant updates JR Raphael/IDG

Assistant's scheduled updates bring you daily briefings on any subject, whenever you need 'em.

Other useful odds and ends

39. Splitting the bill on a non-reimbursable lunch with colleagues? Connect the official Google Pay Assistant action — which is kind of like an IFTTT applet, only available natively and without the need for any third-party service. It'll let you send your co-workers cash or request money from them using nothing but your voice. Just be sure to enunciate carefully, or Kaylie might end up with Kylie's cut (and that's to say nothing of Kelly, Keely, or Kory).

40. On Android, look for the Google Lens icon in the lower-right corner of the Assistant screen (after you swipe upward on the small Assistant shade, if you opened the service via your Home key). Tapping that will let Assistant look through your camera and do all sorts of interesting stuff — like identifying landmarks or books, saving info from business cards directly into your contacts, looking up barcodes or QR codes, and navigating to printed addresses.

41. Give your brain a break and let Assistant handle all your calculations and conversions. Pose practically any mathematical inquiry or unit changeover — liters to gallons, euros to dollars, you name it — and Assistant will give you the info you need in no time.

42. Google Assistant is overflowing with general knowledge. Ask it for definitions, translations, or even just spellings. And ask it for any type of fact you can think of — the name of a CEO or founder, the location of a company's headquarters, or anything else that might make you seem extra-informed in your professional adventures.

43. Just like a human co-worker, Google Assistant can occasionally get a little too chatty. If you want to get info from Assistant without having it answer out loud, either silence your phone's media volume or use the keyboard icon toward the bottom of the app's main interface (after you swipe up on the small Assistant shade, if you opened the service via your phone's Home key). As long as you type your command instead of speaking it, Assistant will answer only with a visual response.

44. Sometimes, the simplest help is the most valuable. When you reach an impossible-seeming decision, call upon Assistant's infinite wisdom: Ask it to flip a coin, roll a die, or give you a random number. Or, if you're really feeling lucky (and/or crazy), say "crystal ball" and leave your fate entirely in Google's hands.

This article was originally published in February 2018 and updated in June 2019.

This story, "44 ways Google Assistant can make you more efficient" was originally published by Computerworld.

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