Before today, if you ask Siri or the Google Assistant to “check the news on Twitter,” you’ll either be shown the @CHEK_News account on the Twitter website or articles about the social network on Apple News. For Android users, voice commands are about to get a lot smarter. Google just announced that the Assistant will be able to search and control your third-party apps when you ask it to. So when you ask for the news on Twitter, you’ll see the latest trending tweets instead of a random account.
This isn’t available to every single Android app out there just yet. Google said Assistant will work with the top 30 apps on the Play Store, with support for more coming soon. The apps will have to be already installed on your phone for the Assistant to be able to pull up results directly within them. I asked it to send a message on Twitter, and the Assistant brought up the app’s compose page, letting me select my recipient.
You could also ask your phone to “search cross stitch baby yodas on Etsy” or “lace up my Nike Adapts” if you have the shoes and companion app. The self-lacing shoes will start tightening without you having to first hunt for the app and then selecting the right option.
The feature rolls out today for all Assistant-enabled Android phones, and works with apps like Twitter, Snapchat, MyFitnessPal, Discord, Nike Run Club and more. You can ask Assistant to order a sandwich on Postmates, show “Ask me anything” on Reddit or check your accounts on Mint, for example, but you can also do more. Say “Hey Google, my shortcuts,” and you’ll be shown a list of commands you can use. You can also set up personalized queries on this page.
Not only does this new capability make Assistant a much more powerful digital helper, it also makes hands-free navigation easier. This could come in handy when your hands are full or you don’t want to touch your phone, but it could also help those who are visually impaired or are suffering from arthritis, offering them an alternative way to interact with their apps.