If your family is anything like mine, smart displays like the Nest Hub tend to get a lot of use by both adults and kids. The conversational capabilities of Google Assistant make that almost a certainty. So it makes sense that for one of its last major updates of 2020, Google is focusing on families with a suite of new features for Assistant-enabled smart displays and speakers.
To start, Google is adding a new Family Notes feature that will let your clan append digital sticky notes to the Nest Hub and other smart displays. You can use them to leave messages and keep track of shared to-dos. Google is also enhancing Assistant’s Family Bell feature with new sound effects and suggested bells. You’ll soon have the option to pause the bell as well, so you can go a day without hearing it if you want.
But the biggest and potentially most controversial addition is one that will allow your child to ask Assistant about your whereabouts. Provided they’re at or over the age of 13, they’ll be able to ask for the location of the entire family with the help of Google Maps and Life360. In addition to Assistant-powered smart speakers and displays, this functionality will be available on Android and iOS devices.
Google is also introducing new third-party integrations from companies like ABCmouse, Noggin and Capstone will allow you to participate in shared activities and interactive stories around the family smart display.
To make it easier to find all these new features, Google is adding a new Family tab to Assistant smart displays. The company says you can expect to see the tweaked interface arrive sometime later this year.
Say you don’t have a smart speaker or display at home, but you do have your kids on a Google Fi plan. Google has you covered there as well, with a handful of new family-oriented features that will come with all Fi data plans. Most handy is a new tool that will allow you to prevent strangers, telemarketers and spam callers from contacting your child by only allowing saved and recent contacts to text and call them. You also have the new option to cap their data usage. Finally, the company is making it easier to set up Family Link directly from the Fi app. The software allows you to set and enforce screen time limits, content filters and app downloads.