Google Assistant Can Now Read You a Bedtime Story

Google Assistant Can Now Read You a Bedtime Story

Google wants to read you a bedtime story, and thanks to the latest Google Assistant feature, it can do just that. The feature, called Tell Me a Story, prompts Google Assistant to tell you a story through your phone. Which could be a Godsend for parents.

Hey Google, Tell Me a Story

In 2017, Google enabled a new feature enabling you to ask Google Assistant to tell you (or your kids) a story. Unfortunately, it only worked on Google Home devices. Making the same request on Android or iOS would get you a quote or a joke, but not an actual story.

Now, however, Google is making it so that the “Hey Google, tell me a story” command will elicit the same response across Google Home devices, Android, and iOS. The response being that Assistant will read you one of the stories Google has curated.

How to Get Google to Tell You a Story

On The Keyword, Google explains that Tell Me a Story allows you to hear stories like “Let’s Be Firefighters!” (Blaze and the Monster Machines) and “Robot Rampage” (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles). You can also ask Google to read you a bedtime story instead.

Google has launched Tell Me a Story to coincide with National Tell a Story Day, which is today (April 27). However, reading should be a year-round activity, and the “Hey Google, tell me a story” command will work 365 days a year.

Tell Me a Story is available in the US, the UK, Canada, Australia, and India. All you’ll need to make use of it is an Android or iOS device with Google Assistant installed on it, as well as the latest version of the Google Play Books app.

Download: Google Assistant on Android | iOS

Download: Google Play Books on Android | iOS

Parents Are Better Than Google Assistant

This is a neat little feature, and another tool in a parent’s arsenal when their little ones won’t go to sleep. However, having Google Assistant reading a bedtime story to your child is no substitution for you doing it yourself. Especially if you do all of the voices too.

Image Credit: Marco Verch/Flickr

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You Can Now Make Google Assistant Sound Like John Legend

If you’re tired of hearing the standard Google Assistant voice you can now make Google Assistant sound like John Legend. If you’re now wondering who John Legend is you may want to click away to another article right about now. But everyone else should read on…

How to Enable John Legend’s Voice in Google Assistant

At Google I/O 2018, Google Assistant gained the ability to converse more naturally with users. Google also announced that Google Assistant was getting six new voices, including John Legend. It has taken longer than expected, but Legend’s voice is finally available.

Google is referring to John Legend’s voice as “a cameo”. This is because he hasn’t recorded every single response you might elicit from Google Assistant. Instead, he’ll answer certain questions, with the standard voice still doing the donkey work.

These questions include, “Are you John Legend?”, “What’s your favorite type of music?”, “Who is Chrissy Teigen?”, “What’s the temperature outside?”, and “Why is the sky blue?”. You can also ask, “Are we just ordinary people?” and instruct him to “Serenade me”.

According to The Keyword, you can enable John Legend’s voice in Google Assistant in two different ways. Either say, “Hey Google, talk like a Legend” or go to Settings > Assistant Voice, and select John Legend. This is currently only available in English in the U.S.

What Celebrities Should Google Ask Next?

Fans of John Legend will obviously lap this up. And everyone else can rest assured that Google is very likely to be adding more celebrity voices in the future. This may be a novelty, but it’s a novelty most people will appreciate to some degree.

If you’re just a little bit obsessed with celebrity but not a fan of John Legend, why not learn how to beat bullies by seeing how celebrities react to mean tweets. Or maybe you would prefer to see how your favorite celebrities can infect you with malware.

Read the full article: You Can Now Make Google Assistant Sound Like John Legend


LG Shows Off New Soundbars With Dolby Atmos and Google Assistant

One of the coolest inventions in the home theater space is the soundbar. They allow you to get high-quality sound without the wires and space needed for a traditional surround sound system.

LG is one of the companies that consistently push the envelope in terms of what home theater systems can offer, and its latest line of soundbars is no exception.

The company has just unveiled a new line of devices that feature Dolby Atmos and Google Assistant built-in.

LG’s SL10YG, SL9YG, and SL8YG Soundbars

LG’s new soundbar line will come in three different flavors—the SL10YG, SL9YG, and SL8YG. All three models are made in collaboration with Meridian Audio, and they all feature support for Dolby Atmos and DTS:X built-in.

According to Dolby, Atmos offers sounds that “moves around you in three-dimensional space, so you feel like you’re inside the action.” Basically, it offers a more detailed level of sound than you’d get from speakers without Atmos.

The Google Assistant features sound very promising, as they’ll allow you to control the volume, ask what song is playing, skip tracks, and all kinds of other things with your voice. Additionally, the soundbar can be used as a hub for smart home devices, which adds another layer to its usefulness. If you want to tell it to turn off the lights, it’ll do that while you’re watching your favorite shows or movies.

Another cool feature that starts on the SL9YG model is a gyroscope that actually senses the position of the speaker and adjusts the sound accordingly.

As far as the look goes, all of the speakers feature a very minimalist design that looks like it’ll blend right into pretty much any living room.

“LG’s 2019 sound bars deliver amazing performance tuned in close partnership with Meridian Audio with the convenience of smart AI connectivity,” said Kim Dae-chul, head of LG Home Entertainment Company’s audio and video business. “The high-quality sound and versatility of our newest lineup takes home entertainment to a whole new level and satisfies a growing demand for premium soundbar solutions that provide impressive listening experiences, greater convenience, and stylish, modern aesthetics.”

There will also be a wireless rear speaker kit available to expand the sound options.

How Much Will the SL10YG, SL9YG, and SL8YG Cost?

Unfortunately, while LG was more than happy to tout some details of its new soundbars, it didn’t mention how much any of them would be. The company also didn’t reveal exactly when it would unleash the new devices on the market.

However, LG did promise to exhibit the new soundbars at CES in January, so we shouldn’t have to wait too long to find out more information, and more importantly, hear how these gorgeous new speakers sound.

Can’t wait? Check out these soundbars with Dolby Atmos that are available right now.

Read the full article: LG Shows Off New Soundbars With Dolby Atmos and Google Assistant


Google Assistant Gets New Features for the Holidays


For those of us who celebrate Christmas, the next few weeks are set to be the busiest time of the year. We all run around buying gifts, sending greetings cards, meeting up with friends and family, and generally being rushed off our feet for no apparent reason.

However, Google thinks its Assistant can help you survive the holidays. And it has rolled out a bunch of new features designed to do just that. Some of Google Assistant’s new features are only loosely connected with the holidays, but we’ll let them off.

Google Assistant’s New Features

Google revealed Assistant’s new holiday-related features in a post on The Keyword. And they are as follows…

Google Assistant now recognizes when you say “please” and “thank you”. The feature, called Pretty Please, rewards politeness by having Assistant reply in an equally polite manner.

Google Assistant can now help you keep track of gift ideas by using notes and lists. You can create a gift list, add ideas to an existing list, and more besides, all with your voice.

Google Assistant now lets you call Santa, and he needs your help while rehearsing for a concert. If you have a Smart Display you can even see some album covers for bands from the North Pole.

If you have a Smart Display and a Google Play Music subscription you can now sing along to your favorite songs. Unfortunately, synchronized lyrics are only available for selected songs.

You can also have Google Assistant read along to one of your favorite Christmas stories. The titles listed here will have music and sound effects added. Alternatively, you can just say, “Hey Google, tell me a story” to have one of 50 titles read to you.

Further Reading for Google Assistant Users

If you’re new to Google Assistant, check out our guide explaining how to use Google Assistant. And if you’re unsure whether Google Assistant is really better than its competitors, we’ve pitched Google Assistant vs. Siri and Google Assistant vs. Cortana.

Read the full article: Google Assistant Gets New Features for the Holidays


You Can Now Book a Ride Using Google Assistant

Ridesharing services are a growing market. The days of hailing a cab seem to be coming to an end, with people preferring to book a ride through their smartphone instead. And seeing the way the wind is blowing, Google is making it easier to book a ride.

In January 2017, Google added the ability to book a ridesharing service on Google Maps. By using the dedicated tab, you can see a range of options, possible pickup points, and estimated prices. And now Google Assistant has learned a similar skillset.

Let Google Assistant Book Your Ride

Imagine you and your friends are preparing for a night out together. You’ve had a couple of pre-game drinks, and now you just need to get to where you’re going. But wait, who’s going to order the ride into town? Now, Google Assistant can do it for you.

As explained on The Keyword, all you need to do is say, “Hey Google, book me a rider to [your destination]” or “Hey Google, get me a taxi to [your destination]”. Assistant will then provide a list of options, including Uber, Lyft, Ola, Grab, and GO-JEK.

Alongside the list of popular ridesharing services you’ll see essential information such as wait times and estimated pricing. You can also single out a specific ridesharing service by saying, “Hey Google, get me a [name of service] to [your destination]”.

Either way, once you have decided, just grab your phone and tap on your chosen ride. The relevant app will open, and you can confirm your booking. This feature is rolling out now to any country where Google’s supported ridesharing partners operate.

Making a Simple Task Even Easier

This is another example of Google using Assistant to make a simple task even easier. Sure, you still have to open the ridesharing app to confirm your booking, but getting to that point is now as simple as asking Assistant for, well, assistance.

However you book a ride and whatever service you use we’re here to help. So why not look at our comparison between Uber and Lyft, take a look at Uber’s different ride types, or discover how to find out your Uber and Lyft passenger ratings.

Image Credit: E Chu/Flickr

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Don’t Text and Drive! 4 Ways Google Assistant Can Keep You Safe in Cars


According to the US Department of Transportation, roughly 10 percent of all fatal vehicle crashes are caused by distracted driving—and 14 percent of those are directly caused by cell phone use.

With this kind of risk, a solution like Google Assistant could significantly reduce your risk of causing an accident because of your phone.

The CDC reports that if you’re driving 55mph and take your eyes off the road for five seconds, for any reason, you will travel the distance of an entire football field. That’s 360 feet! Tasks like searching for music, checking messages, or even typing in a contact to call will remove your eyes from the road longer than that.

We’re going to discuss how Google Assistant can help you handle all the distractions people feel the need to do with their phone while driving.

1. Searching for and Playing Music

These days, most people play music in their cars from their phones, not the radio. But if you’ve ever searched for music on Spotify (or Google Play Music) then you know it involves typing in a search and browsing through albums and playlists. Doing this while driving is nearly impossible.

Google Assistant makes the process of launching a song as simple as asking out loud. All you have to do to get this working is set up your favorite music service in Google Assistant:

  1. Launch Google Assistant and tap the blue drawer icon.
  2. Click the three-dot Menu button and choose Settings.
  3. Select Music
  4. Link your favorite music service and set it as the default.

That’s all it takes. The next time you want to listen to music in your car, just say “OK Google, play [artist, album, song, or playlist].” Google Assistant will use your default music service, but you can append “on Pandora” or similar to use another.

Google Assistant will automatically launch the app and start playing your requested music.

2. Checking and Sending Messages

Typing a text message is one of the most dangerous ways to use your phone while driving. Usually your attention is on typing for much longer than five seconds.

Google Assistant makes it extremely easy to send a text message to anyone in your contact list by saying “OK Google, send a message to [contact name]”.

The name of the contact you speak should match a single contact in your contact list. If there are multiple people with the same name, you’ll have to tap the name you want, so try to make sure all contacts have a distinct label.

Google Assistant will call up another window and ask you to speak your message. It’ll then type it up for you and send it off. You don’t have to glance at your phone once.

You can also have your most five most recent text messages read to you out loud. Just say, “OK Google, show me my last text messages.” Google Assistant will then walk you through your messages like this:

  • Assistant reads the name of the sender to you and asks, “Do you want to hear it, reply, or skip it?”
  • If you say “hear it,” Assistant will read the text message to you.
  • Say “reply” to speak your response and the message will send automatically.
  • If you say “skip it,” Assistant will move on to the next sender and repeat.

So the next time you hear that “ding” of an incoming message, just rely on Assistant to update you. Keep your hands on the wheel and eyes on the road.

3. Making Phone Calls

According to the National Traffic Safety Institute, drivers making phone calls while driving are four times more likely to get into a car accident that could lead to serious injury or death.

If there’s an emergency or you have no choice about making a phone call, don’t pick up your phone to start dialing. That increases your odds of having an accident significantly. Instead, simply say “OK Google, call [contact].”

Keep in mind that holding a phone conversation is still a form of distracted driving. It isn’t nearly as dangerous as holding your phone and typing, but it’s still proven to reduce your reaction time while driving.

If you must make a call while driving, do it using Google Assistant, and do so sparingly.

4. Launching GPS Navigation

Google Maps is another one of the many Google services integrated with Assistant. There’s no reason that you need to type addresses into Google Maps while you’re trying to drive.

Like other tasks we’ve mentioned, Google Assistant makes it easy to find your way anywhere. Leave your phone in the cradle, and just ask it how to get to your destination with a “Navigate to [location]” command.

Google Assistant will locate the business or address you’ve stated, and automatically open up that route in navigation view. The key here is to make sure you start the statement with “navigate.” Make sure the location name is something Google can identify in your local area.

Other Google Assistant Voice Commands for Driving

The commands above cover most of the scenarios where you may need to use your phone in the car. But here are a few more that can help you keep your eyes on the road instead of on your phone:

  • Turn on Bluetooth: If your phone audio connects to the car with Bluetooth, this command will come in handy.
  • Turn volume to [percentage]: You can adjust your phone volume to any level using your voice.
  • How is traffic on the way to [destination]: Learn how heavy traffic is and how long it’ll take you to get to your destination.
  • Where is the closest [business]: Find the nearest gas station, grocery store, restaurant, or any other business.
  • When is my next event?: Be prepared when you get to work or school by having Google Assistant prep you for your first calendar event of the day.
  • Play the news: Keep your hands off the radio dial. Just have Google Assistant play the morning news from top news sources like NPR, USA Today, Fox News, and more.
  • Create appointment [event name] for [date and time]: Google Assistant will create whatever event you’ve described at the time and date you set.

Keep in mind that many states have laws around whether hands-free use of a smartphone is legal while driving. Make sure you check those laws before using any of the voice commands above.

Stay Safe in the Car While Driving

In a perfect world, no one would use their phone at all while driving. The problem is that too many people still do, and they do so in ways that are extremely unsafe.

It’s vital to always keep your eyes on the road and your hands on the steering wheel.

For more ideas on automation, check out the many other ways to automate your life with Google Assistant.

Read the full article: Don’t Text and Drive! 4 Ways Google Assistant Can Keep You Safe in Cars