Google Roundup: Five New Features And Enhancements For Google's Apps

What’s new for Google’s apps and devices.Credit: Alexas Photos/Pixabay

Google is always modifying its apps and devices with upgrades and new features. The pace of change is so relentless that trying to keep track can be overwhelming. In case you missed them, here are some of the best new features Google introduced this week.

Google’s Clock app teams up with Spotify

You can now wake up to a selection of music from Spotify if you use Google’s Clock app as your morning alarm. Your choices are limited to one of 26 Spotify curated playlists or one of the last 10 things you played yourself. Pray a prankster doesn’t get ahold of your phone and ruin your day with a death metal playlist instead of Spotify’s “Have a Great Day!” that normally wakes you up.

Home adds room-specific controls.Credit: Google

Home adds room-specific controls

Home now lets you control devices in individual rooms which can be very useful for actions like voice controlling lights. Previously, if you said “turn on/off the lights”, the Assistant carried out the action on all the smart lights in the house. Now if you assign lights (or anything else) to rooms and say “turn on the living room lights”, only the lights in the living room come on.

The Assistant responds differently to “Turn on/off the lights” (without a room mentioned) depending on where you are when you issue the command. If you’re in a room that has lights assigned to it, the assistant will only turn on the lights in that room. If you’re in a room with no assigned lights, all the lights in the house will come on.

You can assign smart devices to rooms in the “Control your home” section of the Home app.

The Assistant’s routines can be scheduled

Routines are a useful way to carry out a series of commands that usually follow one another. For example, “Turn on the lights”, “Who won yesterday’s Nationals game?”, “What’s the weather?” and “Play NPR” can be combined in a routine that’s triggered by “Good morning”.  Previously, you had to trigger the command with a spoken phrase. Now you can set it to run automatically on a timed schedule.

To set up a scheduled routine, tap the menu icon (three vertical lines) in the upper left corner of the Home app. Tap More settings > Routines and create a new routine. You can set the days of the week and time of day you want the routine to run, the speaker you want to use if the routine involves audio, and whether you want phone notification when the routine executes. You should be able to include the new room-specific controls in a scheduled routine although I haven’t tested it myself.

Table data now appears in Search results.Credit: Google

Google Search returns examples of tabled data

A well-designed table is a clear and concise way to present certain types of information and many news organizations concerned with countering the flood of purposeful misinformation use them to make reliable data available to readers. Previously, the existence of data tables in an article was hidden from Google Search results. Users had to click through to the article to discover a table. Now, Search results can include an example to alert users that a data table appears in an article.

Enhanced information about events in Search

Search can not only help you become better informed with the inclusion of table data, it can help you have more fun with newly enhanced information about events.  A search string like “events near me” returns a list of local events as it has in the past. Now if you tap one of the events, it opens a page with helpful details about the event such as time, location and ticketing information. You can tap through to a ticket provider, to the event’s website for more info, or to Google Maps for directions. There’s also a share button to make coordinating with friends easier. A “For You” tab organizes events into the categories that Google thinks will interest you along with events that are trending where you live.

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