Is barking orders at our AI-powered voice assistants turning us into jerks? Are our kids growing accustomed to commanding the Google Homes and Siris of the world to turn on the lights without the politeness of a “please”?
Perhaps. With that in mind, from here on out, Google Assistant will be a bit more cheery if you take the time to say “please” or “thank you.”
If, for example, you say, “Hey Google, please set a timer for 10 minutes,” Google Assistant will respond “Thanks for asking so nicely! 10 minutes, starting now.”
To be clear: It’s totally optional. Prefer to be curt? That’s okay — Assistant won’t chastise you. But if these are habits you’re trying to instill in a little one or polish up yourself, Assistant will respond in kind.
Google first mentioned that they’d be adding this feature, which they call “Pretty Please,” at I/O in May. Amazon rolled an almost identical feature into Alexa back in April of this year.
Google Assistant is picking up a few other new tricks this morning:
- You can say “Hey Google, Call Santa” to have a chat with ol’ Saint Nick himself. That’s been around a while, but they’ve added a new story line (and visuals, if you have an Assistant device with a display).
- They’ve added a bunch of Christmas stories to Assistant’s story time feature, so you can say things like “Hey Google, read me ‘Twas the night before Christmas,'” or “Hey Google, tell me a Christmas story” to kick things off.
- You can now add things to a specific list, such as your wish list or Christmas dinner shopping list, via Assistant. Say “Hey Google, add ‘Kindle for mom’ to my gift list” and it’ll know what you mean. You can also create new lists via Assistant, and Google notes that they’ll soon support third-party services Any.do, Bring! and Todoist.
- If you have an Assistant device with a display built-in, it can now double as a lil’ Karaoke machine — ask it to play a song via Google Play Music, and the lyrics should now appear in sync.
- If you have an Assistant device with a display built-in and a Nest doorbell, you can now chat with whoever’s at the door thanks to a new two-way talk button.