Google Assistant wish list: The features we still want to see

Dear Google, please make these happen…

Google Assistant wish list
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Google Assistant has been roaming Planet Earth for more than two years now, and in that time it's come on leaps and bounds. Sure, Alexa might have been on the scene first, but Google has worked double time to get Assistant to a point where we believe it's the most intelligent smart assistant.

And then suddenly, we'll come up against a missing feature or a pain point that utterly frustrates us. Or we just notice something that should be there.

So we've put our heads together and come up with a list of features we want Google to add to its Assistant. Whether it's the Google Home or another Assistant-powered or connected device, we've picked out our most-wanted improvements to perfect Google's AI.

Improve room transfer for music

Music control with the Assistant is steadily improving, but transferring music from room to room, for example, is still clunky as hell. Now, if you’re a Spotify subscriber, you can actually start playing your tunes in one room before asking Google to play music in the vicinity of another enabled device, where it’ll pick things up.

However, for those streaming music from any other platform (even Google Play Music – WTF), or firing the music to a speaker from your phone, Assistant is clueless. Google needs to cut the rigamarole attached to its music transfer and let you shift from room to room by just a simple, “Continue playing my music on Kitchen”.

Sort out Google Assistant on TVs

Why can’t we use Google Assistant exactly as we would on a smart speaker, on any sort of Google-powered TV? There are different features on Android TV and Chromecast-enabled TVs and it’s all a bit of a mess.

Google Assistant wish list: Our most-wanted features

Bring Netflix voice controls to Android TV

If you read about Netflix voice controls coming to Google Assistant and you own an Android TV, you probably thought you could get involved. Not yet. Once you’ve set up Voice Match, you can bop straight to your personal profile and it works with a Google Home/Chromecast or Chromecast built-in TV, but still not with Android TV. Apparently, it’s “coming soon”. Come on, then.

Different wake word options

Being able to mix up the wake word may be a basic request, but it’s one that would pay direct dividends. Saying “Hey Google” or “OK, Google” never feels quite right, and the fact that the company has yet to introduce some options to change it up is a little disappointing. Amazon, for example, lets you say “Amazon”, “Alexa”, “Echo” and even “Computer” to kick things off. Even being able to say just “Google” to start a command would be more preferable, wouldn’t it?

Send text messages

Google Assistant can send texts from your phone, but it’s still a no-go on Home speakers, which is all the more surprising when you can send messages from Alexa (so long as you’re on Android) and the HomePod (iPhone).

Tie Podcast app and controls together

Please can we have a built-in Cast button on the Google Podcasts app? Third-party apps like Podcast Addict have it. Oh, and syncing between voice controls via Assistant and the Podcasts app need to be improved because it wasn’t working for us, switching between the smart speaker and our phone.

Read this: How to play podcasts with Assistant on Google Home

Give it a name

This one probably won’t happen because Google really likes the idea of you saying its name every time you use its products, but a name would give the Assistant a bit more personality. Especially as we’re probably not going to be able to select our own pet word any time soon (letting users create their own wake words risks too many false positives, same reason you can't do it with Alexa).

Adjust the volume to my voice

Google has a night mode feature that dims the lights and the sound when you want a bit of quiet time, but sometimes during the day – especially first thing in the morning – we don’t appreciate Google yelling at us. Obviously you can adjust the volume at any time, but wouldn’t it be great if Google registered how loudly you were speaking to it and responded at the same volume? What we're saying is: Google needs to learn a hangover voice.

Better wake word recognition

There's nothing more annoying than a voice assistant that thinks it hears a wake word. We've had both our Google Home Mini and Lenovo Smart Display accidentally think someone was saying the wake word when we were just having regular conversation. We haven't had this many false positives with either Alexa or Siri.

Improve speed on Android TV

Assistant through Android TV may have got a bit of a cosmetic upgrade earlier this year, but it’s often still too slow to be your reliable go-to. It’s nice to be able to use the TV to control the home, sure, and chaining commands works nicely, but just asking for the football score shouldn’t mean waiting 15 seconds for Google to pipe up. It’s a simple refinement that could make Assistant much more attractive to talk with. Plus, Amazon’s Fire TV is really quick.

Make it less fragmented – somehow

This is a pretty niche request, but the two-year-old daughter of one of our editors got pretty sad when the Nest Cam IQ, which now acts as a Google Assistant controller, wouldn’t play Old Macdonald Had A Farm. We get that cameras aren’t speakers, but it could quickly get confusing if features are completely different across devices.

Your turn

That's our wish list for Google Assistant, but we know we're not the only ones who have hopes and dreams for the smart assistant. Let us know in the comments below what you'd like to see Google bring in the future, or which ones from our list you want to see most. Who knows, the company may even take note of the ideas.

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