Google is updating Google Assistant for Pixel 4 users.

It redesigned the AI, so it's more compact when visible on the phone's screen. Assistant also now considers the context of queries, and you can use it to launch apps, search in them, and complete in-app tasks by voice. Oh, and the 'Hey Google' wake phrase has been dropped for strings of questions. Confused? No worries. Here's everything you need to know about the update.

What's new with Google Assistant?

Google Assistant is updating over the air for Pixel 4 users, in order to add the following new features:

Open apps without searching for them on your phone

  • Say, "Hey Google, open Google."
  • Say, "Hey Google, open Instagram."

With a simple voice command to Google Assistant, you can now open apps on a Pixel 4. Google didn't specify which apps, but it appears to include its own apps, like YouTube, as well as third-party apps like Spotify. It's unclear how many third-party apps support the feature. 

Search within the app using just your voice

  • Say, "Hey Google, show me Cher on Instagram”, followed by "Show me Beyonce".
  • Say, “Hey Google open YouTube”, followed by “show me yoga classes".

Not only can you launch apps by voice, but you can also search in them. Again, this feature appears to cover Google's own apps as well as third-party apps. You can ask a string of questions, too, to conduct a series of searches in apps using just your voice. For instance, you can say, “Hey Google, open Google Photos”, followed by "show me the ones on the beach” or "now show me photos of cats".

Make in-app contextual commands

  • “Hey Google, send this to John."
  • “Hey Google, share this with Lucy."

Google Assistant will now recognise some in-app contextual commands, but only for Pixel 4 users. So, if you’re looking through your photos, you can ask Google Assistant to send it to a friend. Or, if you’re looking at a website, you can share the URL with someone. Let's say you’re chatting with friends in Android Messages or WhatsApp, you can also now say “Hey Google, reply” to dictate a response.

Find information without leaving an app 

  • Part of redesign that makes Google Assistant smaller on the screen.
  • Lets you mulitask, open and search apps, and share by voice.

For this new feature, Google gave the following example: "If you’re speaking to a friend about an upcoming holiday and they need to book a taxi from the airport, simply ask 'what time does my flight arrive' without needing to exit the chat." Google also said it redesigned the Assistant so it covers less of the screen, letting you better multitask across other apps, quickly open apps, search, and share.

Speak to Assistant without saying 'Hey Google'

  • Say "Hey Google" for the first question.
  • Ask a series of follow-up questions without uttering wake phrase.

If you’re asking Google Assistant a series of questions, Google said you only have to say “Hey Google” the first time. That means you can wake Google Assistant with "Hey Google, what time is it?" But then you can simply add, "Set an alarm for 7pm" without saying "Hey Google" again. This is possible because Google Assistant now considers the context of your query when answering questions.

When will this update be available?

The new Google Assistant is exclusive to Pixel 4 users from Friday 13 December.

Learn more about Google Assistant

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