How to Use Google Assistant’s New Routines Feature

Regardless of how you feel about voice controls, it seems like every company is dead-set on integrating into everything. For example, consider the fact that manufacturer Kohler has integrated voice commands into their latest high-end toilet, the Numi. Of course, being able to shout “Flush!” after you’ve done your business doesn’t seem like much of an advantage over pressing a lever or button.

That being said, voice controls aren’t going anywhere. The success of smart assistants like Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa has proven that there is a big market for these products, despite their limitations. Google is hoping that its latest innovation will set their smart assistant technology, dubbed simply “assistant.” ahead of the pack.

Google is calling the new feature “Routines.” Essentially, this will let you string together a number of actions with just one command. However, it’s still early days and there are some limitations. Despite limited functionality, “Routines” is an exciting new feature that can help you simplify your daily life.

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As we mentioned above, “Routines” allows users to automate the execution of various tasks by speaking a specific phrase aloud. For instance, saying “Good Morning” would trigger the Google Assistant app to run your “morning routine.” This could include things like taking your phone off silent, rattling off the weather forecast and giving you a run down of your commute.

At this point in time there are only six routines that Google Assistant can execute:

  • Good morning
  • Leaving home
  • Commuting to work
  • Commuting home
  • I’m home
  • Bedtime

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Each one of these “routines” can be customized with a variety of different actions. For example, the “commuting to work” routine might read the day’s news headlines and play music. The “commuting home” routine might read any unread text messages you received during the day and remotely adjust the thermostat. Routines has been designed to execute a number of actions when prompted by a single phrase.

In order to start using Routines, you’ll need to grab the Google Home app. The app is available for both Android and iOS devices. Once the app is installed, fire it up and open the menu. From there, select the “More Settings” option. Scroll down and tap on “Routines.” Select one of the “ready-made” routines to begin customizing it.

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The first thing you can change is the phrase that will activate the routine. For instance, the “Good Morning” routine will kick off once you say “Good Morning.” If you feel funny about greeting a hunk of plastic, you can change this to “Tell me about my day” or simply, “I’m up.”

Once you’ve chosen your activation phrase, you can start customizing what happens when you say that phrase. Simply check the box next to the action to include it in the “Routine.” Alternatively, you can prevent an action from occurring by unchecking the box. If the action has a cog icon next to it, it means that the action can be customized further. Simply tap on the cog icon to explore other options related to that action.

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Upon scrolling down the list of basic actions, you’ll see a section labelled “And then play.” This lets you choose what happens at the end of each routine. You can play music, listen to podcasts or an audiobook, tune in to a radio station or hear the news. You’ll notice that each one of these options has a cog icon next to it. Tapping on that cog icon will enable you to customize the source. For instance, if you want the news to play, you can choose a specific news organization like CNN or NPR.

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Despite the limitations of routines, the new feature ushers in some exciting possibilities. Hopefully, in the future Google will add even more “routines” to the ones currently available. Furthermore, if custom routines could be created by users, the potential usefulness of the feature would only be limited by users’ imaginations.

Have you tried using Routines? Do you think that this new feature is useful? If you haven’t used routines yet, are you planning to give them a try? Why or why not? Let us know in the comments!

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