Google Assistant is known for being a little too trigger-happy. However, this invisible little helper has been ubiquitous for a while, and for a good reason. These days, you can find the incessantly-helpful assistant all over. You’ll find it on your phone, Chromebooks, Google’s best smart home devices, and even your TV. Google Assistant is the default on Android devices, so that may be why many people use it. However, you can’t deny that it is a versatile assistant with a solid range of features, including answering questions about the weather, setting reminders and alarms for work, and helping you look for a new phone.


If you’re new to the Google ecosystem, we created an in-depth Google Assistant guide that explains the basics. Once you’re familiar with the platform, you’re ready to enable the assistant on your Android phone and start using its best features.

How to set up the Google Assistant on your phone or tablet

Google Assistant is available for Android, iOS, iPadOS, and ChromeOS:

  • Android: It should be installed if your device is up-to-date and running Android 5 or newer. If it isn’t, download the Assistant from the Play Store.
  • iPhone and iPad: Get Google Assistant from the App Store if you run iOS 11 or later.
  • Chromebook: Chromebooks running ChromeOS 77 or newer have Assistant preinstalled and enabled. If it isn’t enabled, enable it through settings.

Chromebooks managed by schools can’t access the “Hey Google” functionality. Devices managed by Family Link need parental permission to enable Voice Match functionality.

How to use Google Assistant

After installing Google Assistant, you can start using it immediately. The default values for most of the settings are solid, but there are some things you might want to change to make your new digital companion more tailored to your needs.

First, go into settings, customize how you would like to trigger Google Assistant, and train it to recognize your voice. On Android, open your Settings app (not the Assistant app) and follow these steps:

  1. Go to Settings.
  2. Select Google.
  3. Tap Settings for Google apps to open a page where you can adjust all your Google app settings.

  4. Choose Search, Assistant and Voice.
  5. Select Google Assistant.

  6. Tap Hey Google & Voice Match to open the voice activation options.
  7. In the Hey Google & Voice Match options, enable the Hey Google toggle to enable voice activation, or disable it if you’re worried about privacy or battery drain.
  8. If you enabled Hey Google, tap the Voice model option to train the assistant to recognize your voice.

  9. On the Voice model page, tap Retrain voice model to start the training process.
  10. The voice model training process asks you to speak a few known phrases starting with “Hey Google,” or “OK Google,” and trains its recognition model to understand your voice and commands better.

You can repeat this process and retrain Google Assistant’s voice model if Google Assistant struggles to recognize your voice.

Using Google Assistant from the lock screen

Biometric unlocking has improved over the last few years. Still, it’s an extra step. Sometimes you may want to avoid unlocking your phone when asking for information regarding the weather or your next meeting details. You can access Google Assistant from the lock screen with your voice, but you must enable this in the settings.

If you want to use your assistant without having to unlock your phone, go to the Google Assistant settings page (follow the process above until step four) and then allow access to Google Assistant from the lock screen as follows:

  1. On the Google Assistant settings page, tap Lock screen to open the Lock screen options page.
  2. In the Lock screen options, activate the Assistant responds on lock screen toggle to enable voice activation from the lock screen.

Now, you can use Google Assistant from anywhere on your phone without unlocking it. Although, you may need to unlock it to perform actions like sending a text or making a call, or any other function that requires access to another app to complete.

Enabling this setting means that Google can access your smartphone’s microphone even when your device is locked and in your pocket or bag. Be aware of the privacy implications of this.

Talk to the Google Assistant without using the Hey Google trigger

Google Assistant is generally set up to expect user interaction via voice commands. However, some options let you use it without your voice to accommodate scenarios where voice activation isn’t practical or for users with speaking difficulties.

To activate Google Assistant from the homescreen without voice commands, tap the Assistant shortcut from your homescreen or app tray. You can also launch Google Assistant by tapping the microphone icon in the Google search bar widget on your homescreen.

If you’re on a different screen, the way to call upon Google Assistant varies depending on your device, the device’s configuration, and whether you use navigation gestures or buttons. In the first case, swipe diagonally from either corner of the bottom of the screen to summon Google Assistant. If you prefer navigation buttons, press and hold the Home button until you see the Google Assistant popup appear.

Summoning Google Assistant without voice commands doesn’t make it work without voice commands by default. Google Assistant still expects a voice command to perform actions. However, you can set up text input exclusively to interact with Google Assistant.

To set up Google Assistant to default to text-based interaction, go to the Google Assistant settings page mentioned in step four of the setup process above, and follow these steps:

  1. Find and open the General option to open the general Assistant settings.
  2. Tap the Preferred input option.

  3. Select Keyboard to make Google Assistant default to opening the keyboard when you activate it.

What can Google Assistant do?

Google Assistant can do everything from give you directions for the quickest route home to make dinner reservations. If you’re new to Android or Google, you’ll want to check out our what Google Assistant can do guide. Basic functions built into Google Assistant are voice-activated things like the weather, restaurant recommendations, and reminders. Ask it, “What’s the weather like?” or tell it to remind you to turn the oven off in five minutes, and it accurately responds to both requests.

Google Assistant is particularly good as a hands-free helper, allowing you to open apps, send messages, and place calls with your voice. However, its true strength lies in automation, routines, and its integration with the Android operating system and Google’s app ecosystem.

Google Assistant Routines

One of the most overlooked Google Assistant features is the Routines functionality. This automation suite lets you set up custom, multistep operations that you can trigger manually or upon satisfaction of certain conditions. While Google Assistant Routines aren’t quite on the level of Samsung’s Bixby Routines yet, you can use any phrase to trigger a routine and use any operation available to the assistant within a routine.

To set up Google Assistant Routines, go to the Google Assistant options page mentioned in step four of the setup process mentioned above and follow these steps:

  1. On the Google Assistant options page, scroll down until you find the Routines option and tap it to open the Routines page.
  2. On the Routines page, tap the New button in the upper-right corner of the screen to add a routine.

  3. Tap the New Routine text to name your new routine.
  4. Tap + Add starter to create a trigger.

  5. On the Add starter page, choose a type of starter. For a voice-activated routine, tap When I say to Google Assistant. If you want it set to a schedule, select At a specific time or At sunrise or sunset.
  6. If you selected the voice activation option, your phone opens a page prompting you to create a voice command. Add your voice command by typing it into the text box.
  7. If you selected At a specific time or At sunrise or sunset, choose when you would like the routine to activate, how often you want it to repeat, and whether you want a notification when the routine runs.

  8. After choosing your options for the starter, tap the Add starter button in the lower-right corner of the screen. You can specify more than one starter by tapping Add starter in the main new routine configuration page.
  9. After defining a starter or two, add actions to the routine. Under the Actions section of the configuration page, tap the Add action button to configure the actions.
  10. Select an action from the list of available actions. If the action you are looking for isn’t there, tap Try adding your own to add a custom action which can be anything Assistant can normally execute.

  11. After adding an action, tap Save to save your routine.

If you’re trying to automate specific, chained features (for example, activating and deactivating silent mode on a schedule), create two routines. One to activate or adjust the setting and another to revert the change.

Google Assistant is great, but so is Samsung Bixby

Now that you know how to operate Google Assistant, especially the Routines feature built into it, you can reduce the time you spend mashing your fingers into the glass of your phone screen. And if you’re on a Samsung device and would rather not use another Google service, you can give Samsung Bixby a try.

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