Google Assistant is now available on the iPhone (well, at least in the US). Assistant is the manifestation of the future of Google, AI, and voice assistants. As we already know, Google is better at voice assistants and online services than Apple. But Google Assistant can’t really be compared to Siri as ultimately it’s an app and it can’t perform system functions that Siri can.
Still, I think there’s a place for Google Assistant’s app on your Home screen – to fill up the void left by Siri. Assistant will answer the questions that Siri won’t and it will help you use Google services better. Assistant becomes even more useful if you’re all-in on the Google ecosystem.
If you decide to give Google Assistant a shot, try the tips and tricks below for a better experience.
Download: Google Assistant for iPhone
1. Add The Widget
Google Assistant is just an app so you can’t access it by long pressing the home button like you can Siri. So Google has tried to make this process easier for you by creating a widget that you can put in the Today View (and it shows up when you 3D Touch the app icon).
Go to the Today View, scroll down and tap on Edit. Tap on the green plus button next to the Assistant app name and then tap on Done. Google Assistant is now added to the Today View. Now, just swipe right from the Lock screen or the Home screen to access Assistant. Tap on the mic icon and start talking.
Alternatively, if you have an iPhone 6s or higher, 3D Touch, not the app icon, then tap on the mic icon in the widget to talk to Assistant.
2. Type To Google Assistant
One of the features that Siri doesn’t have is the ability to type to it. If you’re in a situation where you can’t talk to Assistant, you can type to it instead.
After opening the app, tap on the faded keyboard icon in the bottom-left to bring up the keyboard.
3. Don’t Ask Google Assistant to Do iPhone System Tasks
Because Google Assistant is an app it can’t access iOS system. So it can’t do things like toggle Bluetooth, set an alarm, automatically send an iMessage and so on. It can place a call but the process involves tapping a popup.
There are things Siri is just better at doing and when it comes to doing iPhone tasks, you should switch to use Siri for those.
4. Ask What You’d Usually Google
Google Assistant does beat Siri when it comes to asking general questions or looking up information. Siri has two problems in this regard. It’s not that great at hearing you when you ask something complex. It also fails at answering your question because it uses Bing search.
Google is great at doing both those things. So you should use Assistant for looking up anything you normally would on Google. Usually, it will give you a direct answer and you’ll end up saving a lot of time.
5. Ask For Directions
If you’re the kind of person who uses Google apps and services instead of iCloud, Google Assistant is going to be really useful. You can ask Assistant to get you directions to a place and you’ll see a preview in the app. When you tap the Directions button it will open directly in Google Maps. There’s nothing quite as awesome as a way to bypass Apple Maps.
6. Set Multiple Timers
This is another one of those things that Siri can’t do and is really useful in particular cases. With Google Assistant you can set multiple timers, control them individually and see their status at the same time.
Just ask Assistant “start a timer for 5 minutes”, then “start another timer for 8 minutes”. Then ask “show all my timers” to see all the timers.
7. Draft Emails
Assistant doesn’t integrate directly with the Google Inbox or Gmail app but it does have the ability to send an email to someone directly from the app. Just say “send contact email” and it will bring up the draft screen.
8. Add Calendar Events
Google Assistant can directly add events to your calendar. Just say “add lunch with John for next Tuesday at 3 pm” and the app will do it.
9. Set Up News Briefing
One of the unknown features in Google Assistant is the daily news briefing. This is where you get flash news briefing from choose sources. They’re read out by reporters. Once set up right, it becomes a really easy way to catch up on the day’s news from the sources you like, in just a couple of minutes (without the need for reading anything).
To set it up, tap on the floating icon in the top-right, then tap on the three-dotted-menu and select Settings.
From Settings, select News. From here add news sources. You can change the country from the top. Once you’ve added sources, you can reorder them as well. You’ll find reputed news organizations like NPR, Reuters, CNN, BBC and so on.
Once the sources are set up just right, go back and ask Assistant something like “what’s the news”, “listen to news” or “what’s my news briefing”.
10. Set Up Shortcuts
This is more of a pro feature. If you find yourself repeating the same command to Assistant over and over again, you can create a shortcut for it. It’s similar to Text Expansion, only here you say the command.
From Settings, tap on Shortcuts. You’ll see some examples here that you can directly enable. To create your own, tap on the Plus button.
In the first field, type the shortcut and in the second field type what the Assistant should do. You can say both commands instead of typing by microphone icon.
Explore All Actions
There are a lot of things Google Assistant can do for you, especially when it comes to asking questions about the internet. The app has a handy list of things you should try asking it. Tap the floating icon in the top-right and you’ll hand in the Explore section. Browse around to learn more about Assistant’s capabilities.
Download: Google Assistant for iPhone
What do you think of Google Assistant? Do you think there’s a place for Google’s voice assistant on the iPhone, even in the form of an app? Share with us in the comments below.
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