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Much like its competitor Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant will now let you broadcast your voice around your home. Like a modern-day intercom system, you can speak a message to the Assistant on your phone, and relay it on connected Google Home speakers elsewhere in your abode.
The new feature, which Google announced today in a blog post, seems mostly designed for families (which makes sense). You can use this broadcasting capability to tell the kids it’s time to head out to the school bus in the morning, for example. Or, when you’re leaving the office at the end of the day, you can speak to the Google Assistant in your phone to broadcast to speakers at home that you’re on the way.
Google even built in a couple of fun (but useful) features to this effect. For instance, if you tell Google Assistant “OK Google, broadcast it’s dinner time,” the Assistant will ring a virtual dinner bell on all of your Google Home units. It’s a slightly more pleasant alternative than bellowing down the hallway that dinner’s done—although that can still be a last resort.
If you plan to use this new capability, you may want to make sure that you don’t have Google Home units in both your office and your home. Broadcasting that you just got out of the shower to your partner in the kitchen may be a useful message at home, but really awkward for your deskmates at work.
Broadcasting is available today in English for the U.S., Australia, Canada, and the U.K., but will come to more countries and languages in the future. It works with Google Assistant on iOS and Android smartphones, and on Google Home, Google Home Max (when it ships in December), and Google Home Mini smart home speakers.
Christina Bonnington is a tech reporter who specializes in consumer gadgets, apps, and the trends shaping the technology industry. Her work has also appeared in Gizmodo, Wired, Refinery29, Slate, Bicycling, and Outside Magazine. She is based in the San Francisco Bay Area and has a background in electrical engineering.