Google Assistant is now available for Nvidia Shield TV, and it is actually quite useful.
Google Assistant… what can you do?
First off you can start by saying good morning. Really, try it. It tells you the weather for today and the news. Then continue by asking it to play the latest video from Corridor Digital on Youtube. You can learn a few jokes or just find general information online. It’s pretty neat. When the evening comes, ask it to play your favorite show on Netflix and turn off the lights in the living room. After you are done watching, tell it to go to sleep and it will turn off the TV. It is awesome, having someone in the house who really listens to you… ;> But seriously, there are some things that still don’t work as expected (set the volume to 50%, play and pause are a hit and miss). Nevertheless, this is something I started using from day one. I wish I could set the Google Assistant’s voice volume independently, as I often play some quiet music while relaxing in the living room, and I can barely hear the Assistant.
Even smarter home
The thing I like the most is the fact that my TV became a bridge to smart home appliances. I had a Belkin WeMo smart plug laying around and decided to try it out. The whole setup was pretty straightforward. First I downloaded WeMo app from the Google Play Store and configured the plug with my WiFi network. Next, I launched Google Assistant on my phone and clicked the icon in the top right corner. After entering Settings -> Home control, I clicked the plus button and added WeMo. Follow the steps to pair your device with your Google Home. Add a nickname for your device and now you can turn it on and off through your Assistant. Pretty neat.
If you ever need someone to talk to…
Google Assistant contains many apps and chatbots you can talk to. It is difficult to list them all, but just to name a few: “Talk to Eliza” will let you talk to the Eliza bot. Use “Talk to Fitstar” for a fitness trainer. GA will also help you relax and find your center, just say “Practice mindfulness”. There’s also plenty of games for children: “talk to number genie”, “play musical chair”, “mad libs”, “I’m feeling lucky”. The library of available actions will only grow and with them, the usefulness of the assistant.
The future of Google Assistant for TV
For me, there is one major feature missing from Google Assistant, and that is support for conditional execution. A simple time delay for an action is already extending the usability by a lot. I can turn off the light myself, but I can’t have it turn off by itself in one minute from now. GA could then “Turn off the heater when room temperature exceeds 21°C”. Though for now, at least a fully functional GA with functionality found elsewhere would be enough. At this point, the Assistant for TV is a crippled version found on phones. There is a lot of room for improvement, and I believe all that will be possible with future versions of the product.
What features of the Google Assistant do you like the most, and which ones do you think are missing? Let us know in comments below.