Google Assistant has a few more tricks up its sleeve starting Wednesday, including one that lets it play nicely with iPhones and others that simplify creating routines. Google is tying this set of features together with a theme of “making the day a little easier,” but it goes quite beyond that — especially with regards to iPhone.
You can now ask Google Assistant on your Google-branded smart speaker to “find” (i.e., “ring”) your iPhone, even if it’s on silent or do not disturb. (You’ll have to opt-in on your iPhone’s security settings to enable this feature.) That may seem like a small — albeit exceptionally useful — improvement over the previous feature (Google Home could call your phone but not bypass silence settings), but it’s actually a tremendous stride toward ecosystem interoperability.
Arriving on the heels of Google Home’s relatively recent Apple Music integration — and in concert with other features that bring Google Assistant to the fore on your iPhone, like being able to summon Google’s helper on iPhone with “Hey, Google” while using Google Maps — the ability to bypass silent mode and Do Not Disturb knocks out yet another brick in the wall separating Google’s and Apple’s walled gardens.
Here’s what else you can do with Google Assistant starting today.
Create routines automatically with new premade templates
Smart home routines are the sprinkles on top when it comes to smart home automation — the ingredient that makes the whole thing delightful — and yet there’s a tremendous amount of friction when users are tasked with creating their own from scratch. Amazon recently made a big push to simplify and streamline the process of creating new Alexa routines, and now it appears Google is doing the same with Google Assistant.
Google has added a “suggested actions” section under its Ready-Made Routines tab in the Assistant app, with prefab options such as, “Tell me if my battery is low” and, “Tell me what happened today in history.” If you’re using an Android phone or tablet, you can also add a shortcut to your home screen for routines.
Also of note: Last year, Google began rolling out sunrise and sunset routine triggers starting in the US, where users can set a routine to begin up to four hours before or after either solar event, with specific timing updated daily and based on geographical location. Starting today, that feature rolls out globally.
Google Assistant can speed up certain online restaurant orders
Ordering take-out food might take a little less time out of your day with a new feature that uses, a service that already lets you make restaurant reservations and buy movie tickets without having to speak to a human.
Starting Wednesday with a limited set of partner restaurant chains (Google says more will be added in the US over the next year), when you tap Order Online to begin a take-out order using the Google app on Android, put in your order and then tap Check Out, Google Assistant will automatically navigate through the restaurant’s website and fill in your contact and payment details that are synced with Google Pay and Chrome autofill.