Google Assistant is the software giant’s voice assistant and its answer to Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa. You can ask the Assistant almost anything, and it will understand your words in context, serving up relevant results in a conversational manner.
Pretty much every single Android phone has Assistant installed out of the box these days, so if you have a new Android phone, there’s a very good chance you have access to Google’s voice-activated helper already. In fact, when you first set up your phone it’ll take you through the basics of getting started.
To help you figure out everything the Assistant does on the phone, we’ve rounded up some expert tips and tricks. If you have a Nest or Google Home device, we have separate tips and tricks features you can read to get the most out of those devices.
Google Assistant Tips and Tricks
Many of the tips below were written with a Pixel 6 phone running Android 12, though they will work on other Google-Assistant compatible phones too; pretty much all Android phones, as well as iOS devices with the Google Assistant app. You might find the settings menus are in different places, however.
When you first get your Assistant on your smartphone you’ll be asked to use Google Assistant and “OK Google” always-on voice detection. You’ll have to set up an “OK Google” voice model so that the phone can recognize your voice at any time and activate Google Assistant to serve your needs (whether that be to play music, fetch the weather forecast, or whatever).
Pick The Right Google Account for The Assistant
Google Assistant feeds off your Google account. It’s important to make sure that you set up Assistant with the same account that you’re going to be asking it to find information from, especially when it comes to photos.
If you use one account for Assistant and a different account for your Google Photos, then it won’t have access.
Google Assistant has a Settings menu. Under this menu, you can do everything from adjusting your “OK Google” voice model to viewing a summary of your activity generated by Assistant.
Open your Settings app and search for ‘Assistant’, and you should see an option that says ‘Assistant Settings’ in the list. Tap on that and it’ll take you to your Google Assistant main settings menu.
In older versions of software, the method is different: Open the Google Assistant app by saying ‘Ok Google, tap on the Snapshot icon in the bottom left, and then tap on the circular profile icon in the top right corner. Scroll down and you’ll find various Google Assistant settings.
Customize Your News List
Open the Google Assistant settings > Scroll down to News and tap it to customize your news list.
From here, you will be able to add news sources if you scroll to the bottom. You can also change the order by tapping the ‘Change Order’ tab on the right at the top of your news list. Tapping on the ‘x’ next to a news source will remove it from your list of News Sources.
Customize ‘My Day’ Summary
Open the Google Assistant settings > Tap on Routines > Tap on Good Morning. From here you can customize your daily briefing.
You can select from a handful of options, including taking your phone off silent, adjusting compatible smart devices, finding out the weather, work commute, reminders, whether you’d like to end your day with a narration of the news, etc. You can also add an action, such as playing music, at the end.
Access Shopping List
Open the Google Assistant and say ‘Show me my shopping list. Now you can add items to this list. Or you simply say something like ‘HeyGoogle, add chorizo and milk to my shopping list.
Enable Follow-up Questions
Google Assistant has a ‘Continued Conversation’ mode which allows you to ask a follow-up question after being given a response by Google Assistant. Rather than have to use the ‘Hey Google’ wake word again. Go to your Google Assistant settings and choose ‘Continued Conversation’, then choose which device you want to enable it on.
Change Your Assistant Language
Open the Google Assistant settings > Tap on Languages > Tap on ‘Add a Language’ to choose a language for speaking to your Assistant.
Enable/Disable Always-on ‘Hey Google’
Open the Google Assistant settings > ‘Hey Google and Voice Match’ and toggle the ‘Hey Google’ on or off.
Turn on the toggle to give Assistant permission to recognize your voice whenever you say “Hey Google” – even if your screen is off or you’re using an app. This makes the Assistant always on.
Use ‘Hey Google’ to Unlock The Device
Open the Google Assistant settings > Scroll down to ‘Personal results’ > Toggle on ‘Lock screen personal results.
Toggle on to allow voice match to send messages and access email, calendar, contacts, and more when your phone is locked.
Finally, Getting More Philosophical…
Try asking Google Assistant “when am I?”