Today is a big day for the Google Assistant, smart displays, and your family, assuming you have one of these devices in your home. Google is adding sticky notes to screens (Family Notes), more controls over Family Bells, new family activities, a way to check on the whereabouts of your family, and a new “Family” tab.
The new Family Notes or digital sticky notes were first introduced at CES earlier this year, and they work as you can probably guess. To add to your smart display, you’ll say something like “Hey Google, leave a family note that says buy beer.” Once done, a little yellow sticky note will appear on the screen for everyone to see (above). Cool, right?
For Family Bells, Google must be seeing a good amount of adoption on these, so they’ve added controls including new sound effects and suggested bells (below). In the near future, you’ll also be able to pause bells for days off of school or work. As someone with a 7-year old at home doing school every day, I cannot tell you how helpful these bells have become and also how happy I am to see Google continue to improve them.
In the family department, Google is adding new activities you can do together, with content from ABCmouse (parents, you’ll know this). Just say, “Hey Google, what can I learn with my family?” to get going there. There is a new “interactive” story category too, where you can tell Google to “tell me a story” and then read along, flip pages, and see animations from content providers.
To help make all of that new family stuff easier to find, Google is adding a “Family” tab to the new smart display UI that just rolled out.
Finally, because it’s the holiday season and we may find our families running around to different corners of the city (hopefully, with masks on and staying outdoors as much as possible), Google is adding a “Hey Google, where’s my family?” command that will get you an update on the locations of others in your household. You can even use that command to specify a person, rather than the whole crew. Google says that this is for members 13 and older and that they are partnering with Life360 to make it all happen.
I wish I could tell you when everything is rolling out, but this is from Google and that means staged, slowness. Some of it could be today, while others might not be for weeks up through the end of 2020.