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When you turn on the toggle, you give Assistant permission to show you info related to what's on your screen. Turn on the toggle to give Assistant permission to recognise your voice whenever you say "OK Google" - even if your screen is off or you're using an app.

This makes Assistant always-on. Toggle on to allow voice match to send messages and access email, calendar, contacts and more when your phone is locked. You'll then have to say 'OK Google' a few times so that Assistant can remember and recognise how you say the phrase. It can then use the phrase as a wake word and device-unlock word.

Google Assistant then won't be able to remember or recognise how you say the phrase. Keep in mind you then can't use the phrase. From there, you'll see the option to add your Home and work addresses. You can also add additional places by tapping on 'Add a new place'.

Click on it to decide what Google Assistant calls you. You can also test that Google knows how to say it correctly. Follow the instructions.

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Once a device is setup, you'll be able to use Google Assistant to control it. Read our separate feature on some of the best Google Assistant compatible smart home devices available to buy. Google Assistant is your personal assistant.

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It can play music for you, set reminders, check your flight, and plenty more. Here's a few things you can say and do with Assistant using just your voice. On iOS devices, open the Google Assistant app. To ask Assistant to play some music, say "OK Google" followed by "play some music", "play some Jazz", "play some workout music", "listen to Daft Punk", or "listen to Imagine on Spotify", etc.

You can set your default music app in the Services tab of Google Assistant's settings and it will automatically play from that music from that source. This will open Luke Cage on Netflix. You don't have to watch Luke Cage, but you should, it's good.

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To ask Assistant to narrate news from sources you've pre-selected, say "OK Google" followed by "what's the news", "international news", "what's the news about Trump", or "sports news", etc. To ask Assistant to control compatible smart devices, you'll need to set them up. After which, you can say "Ok Google", followed by "turn the kitchen lights off", "tell iRobot to start cleaning", "turn the dining room map on", "turn up the heating", etc. To ask Assistant for your daily briefing, say "OK Google" followed by "good morning", "good afternoon", or "good evening", etc.

You'll get the weather, upcoming meetings, a news narration, etc. To ask Assistant to set reminders for you, say "OK Google" followed by "set a reminder To ask Assistant to set an alarm for you, say "OK Google" followed by "set an alarm To ask Assistant about the weather, say "OK Google" followed by "what's the weather", "will it rain tomorrow", "how hot is it outside", "what's the temperature", or "forecast for the weekend", etc.

To ask Assistant about sports news, say "OK Google" followed by "Did the Red Sox win", "Did Arsenal win", "tell me sports news", "when's the baseball game", "who is the fastest man alive", or "what is the Real Madrid roster" etc. To ask Assistant a general question, say "OK Google" and then ask any question, such as "who is Archimedes", "how far is the moon", "how many ounces in a cup", or "how many ounces in a pound", or "what is a dangling participle" etc.

In many cases, Google will read the information back to you, telling you the source. To ask Assistant to find stuff nearby, say "OK Google" followed by commands like "find a restaurant", "nearby events", "nearby hotel", "what are some nearby pubs", or "what comedy movies are playing" etc. To ask Assistant to find stuff while you're traveling, say "OK Google" followed by "flights to New York", "hotels in Boston", "restaurants in Barcelona", "where can I hike in France", or "Is United flight 16 on time", etc.

Google Assistant will know things about your booked trave if you have confirmations sent through to a Gmail account. Just say "OK Google" then "what's my next flight" and you'll get a list of upcoming flights. You can also ask "when am I going to Barcelona? To ask Assistant to place a call for you, say "OK Google" followed by "call Sally", "make a phone call", "call Alice Walker", or "call mum at home", etc.

To ask Assistant to send a message for you, say "OK Google" followed by "send a message", "text Eric", "send a WhatsApp message", "text Alice arriving at 5pm", or "tell Sally I'll be 5 mins late", etc. To ask Assistant to set a timer, say "OK Google" followed by "set a timer", "countdown 1 minute", "start a timer for 10 mins", or "set a timer for 5 minutes", etc. Google Photos knows that photos contain, so it will also return photos of objects, like your dog, food, kids or places, just say "show my pictures of cars" and you'll get your car photos displayed.

This will display emails from your linked account. To use Assistant to dictate in supported messaging apps, including Google's own Messaging app, tap the microphone icon in your keyboard. To ask Assistant to help you navigate, say "OK Google" followed by "navigate home", "navigate to work", "directions to Main Street", "Navigate to the nearest coffee shop", or "navigate to the post office", etc. This will calculate the route and open up Google Maps Navigation.

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If you're in a loud place, it might not recognise your voice properly. Google Assistant will help with this essential task. Simply say "OK Google" followed by "take a selfie". This will instantly open the camera and start a 3 2 1 countdown. Remember to smile. The universal method of decision making. Say "OK Google" and then "toss a coin".

Assistant will toss that coin and let you know if it's heads or tails. Great for peering into dark holes. Google Assistant can be funny, like Siri. And it's good at keeping your mind occupied when you're feeling bored. Here's a few things that Assistant can do beyond working day and night to serve your every need.

To ask Assistant to play trivia, simply say "OK Google" followed by "play trivia". It'll then let you choose from various subjects, such as maths, geography, entertainment, etc. It'll then let you play a game, or tell you a joke. It'll even "surprise you with some random fun". Brace yourself for some funky results if you opt for less fully developed versions of either.

You may not get the level of fit and polish you'd expect from, say, a Netflix or a Robinhood. And the same security cautions mentioned for wallpapers apply here as well. Here's the deal. Choosing the best launcher, wallpaper manager, and icon pack comes down to personal preference. There's no real right answer for any of them. Live a little! This does not apply to keyboards.

Instead, stop using whatever keyboard your Android phone came with and install Gboard instead. It's everything you love about the stock Android keyboard, with a Google search built right in. And more! It has wizardry, like translating your text in real time before you send it. It has delightful absurdities, like being able to search for the right emoji by drawing it on your screen.

You can search for and send GIFs preferably reaction GIFs that express your surprise when you find out all the things that Gboard can do. The way to personalize your keyboard is to install Gboard instead, full stop. To do so, download it, go to Settings , then Language and Input , then Current keyboard , and select Gboard as your new daily driver. It's the best keyboard over there, too. Tell your friends! The stock Android messaging app, Android Messages, is totally fine.


It's fine! You send messages, get messages, toss in an emoji or two along the way. You know, basic stuff. But if you're looking for something more in your daily chats, you've got a surprising number of options, any of which will improve on what your smartphone came with. We'll start with the house favorite, Signal , a relatively stripped down messaging app save for one crucial feature: rock-solid encryption. Because Signal uses an open source cryptographic protocol, you can rest assured that it's as secure as it claims, something a surprising number of encrypted chat apps can't boast.

Signal's security bona fides are so good, in fact, that both WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger use the underlying protocol as well by default and when you specify "secret conversation," respectively. Those are also perfectly valid messaging replacements, depending on how many of your friends are on those platforms and how much you value stickers.

If you do go the Facebook Messenger route, I'd also strongly encourage you to go with Messenger Lite instead.

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It's Messenger without all the battery and soul-killing games and such , which is to say, it's what Messenger should have been all along. One last option worth serious consideration: Textra SMS , the power user's go-to Android messaging app. While some might find its customization levels overwhelming, it'll be genuinely life-changing if you've ever wanted to color-code your texting experience with choosable hues, or a range of 21 text sizes. You can even customize your emoji in the style of Android, iOS, or Twitter, to make sure you're speaking the same language as your chat recipient.