Google Assistant learns how to read texts as its prime-time rollout continues

Google's voice-activated Assistant can finally interact with our messages.

IDG

IDG

Google Assistant is having a great month. Just last week Google started rolling out its voice-activated aide to all Android phones running Marshmallow and Nougat, and now it’s showing off a new trick that will make it much more useful: integration with our messages.

For whatever reason, Google Assistant struggled when it came to reading our messages before. Even though it had a second home in Allo and could send messages on command, Assistant balked when asked basic questions about our incoming texts, as it was unable to read and interact with them. As first spotted by 9to5Google, that’s changed in the latest update.

Now you can ask Assistant to hear the last message you received, dictate the one you just sent, and even read the most recent message from a specific person. Additionally, if you ask Assistant if you have any unread messages, it will show messages that haven’t been looked at, and if there aren’t any, it will say so, while displaying a button to read the latest messages in your account. When you ask to "Read my messages," it will display the five most recent, tell you who sent the latest one, and ask if you'd like to hear it.

The integration works with whatever default messaging service you’ve selected for your phone (it worked on Android Messages on my Pixel as well as LG's Messaging app on my pre-release G6), but it doesn’t seem to extend to Assistant's other extensions. When I tried to replicate the functionality in Allo and on my Android Wear 2.0 watch, for example, it brought up web results rather than my texts.

The feature appears to be live on any phones that have Assistant enabled, so it should be rolling out with the version being delivered as part of the large-scale Google Play Services update. However, I’m still waiting for Google Assistant to appear on my Nexus 6P, so it still might be a while before it reaches your phone.

Assistant’s big break: It might seem like a small thing, but the ability to read and interact with our texts is a big step for Assistant. Coupled with the massive roll-out to all Nougat and Marshmallow phones (not to mention Android Wear 2.0 watches), Google is making a serious push for Assistant to be the bot to beat in the AI war. So not only does messaging integration remove a major stumbling block to full-scale adoption, it also paves the way for future interactions that make our experience with Assistant that much smoother.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags digital assistants

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Michael Simon

Unknown Publication
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Matthew Stivala

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

The HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer is a great device that fits perfectly into my fast paced and mobile lifestyle. My first impression of the printer itself was how incredibly compact and sleek the device was.

Armand Abogado

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

Wireless printing from my iPhone was also a handy feature, the whole experience was quick and seamless with no setup requirements - accessed through the default iOS printing menu options.

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?