5 mistakes everyone makes with Google Assistant

What not to do with Google Assistant and what to do instead

Google Nest Mini
(Image credit: Google)

Google Assistant is everywhere. You might just think of it being somewhat trapped in Google Nest and Google Home speakers but all Android TVs and Android phones come with Google Assistant too and you can even drive with Android Auto. Not to scare you but you can probably say ‘Hey, Google’ right now and something, somewhere in your house will helpfully answer. This means you could have been guilty of a suite of common mistakes when it comes to Google Assistant. Here are some of the best known mistakes and what to do instead.

Google Home

(Image credit: Google)

1. Blocking the mic 

It sounds silly but always make sure that whichever device you are using to speak to Google Assistant doesn’t have the microphone covered. Whether that’s a Google Nest, Google Home, or another Google-enabled speaker, you need to make sure that there’s nothing getting in the way of Google hearing your voice. We’re thankfully no longer in the realms of having to all use our best Californian accent to be understood, but we do still have to make sure there’s no furnishings or a hand blocking access to the microphone as you hold your phone.

Google assistant

(Image credit: Google)

2. Not using actions 

Google Assistant has plenty of dedicated apps known as actions to let you organise your day. These range from asking for your calendar in audio form and getting the latest news from your favourite media outlets all the way to asking for specific sleep sounds or syncing your run. Get used to asking Google Assistant what you would normally pick up your phone and type into Google and you’ll find that just saying it out loud is far faster. It’s especially useful for translation if you’re travelling too.

Google Nest Hub Max

(Image credit: John Lewis)

3. Forgetting the milk

We’d ask you to picture the scene but you probably won’t have to. We’ve all felt that crushing sense of guilt when we’ve been told to pick up a vital ingredient for tonight’s meal and completely forgotten. An exceptionally handy addition to Google Assistant is the Shopping List function. All you have to do is say ‘Hey, Google. Add pasta to my shopping list’ and it’ll be added to a digital one. You can then ask Google what’s on the list when you’re in the shop or just head to the ‘Notes & Lists’ section of the settings in the Google Home app and you can view everything there. This is ideal if you have multiple items but if you want to be extra clever, you could always add a location based reminder for when you get to the shop.

Netflix logo on phone in dark

(Image credit: SOPA Images / Getty Images)

4. Leaving tech and streaming services unconnected

It’s official; smart tech becomes existentially sad if it’s not fulfilling its true linked purpose. It’s our job then to make sure that everything that can be connected to Google Assistant is connected. Helpfully, you’ll see on the Google Home app which items are on your shared network and can be linked up. You can connect Tile smart trackers, Philips Hue lighting, games consoles, and robot vacuums and you can also link up your Chromecast streaming services like Netflix or Disney+. Link your subscription in the Google Home app and then you’ll be able to tell Google Assistant to open the app and even search for specific TV shows and films.

Android Auto

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

5. Texting when you shouldn’t 

There’s always something uniquely stressful about knowing important messages are arriving on your phone when you’re driving. The good news is that if you’ve got an Android phone with Google Assistant, this is completely a non issue. All you need to do is make sure the Google Home app has access to your messages and you can say ‘Hey Google, read my messages’ and it will read old school SMS texts and even messages from apps like WhatsApp. You can respond too by saying ‘Hey, Google send a message to X’ or even ‘Hey, Google send a WhatsApp audio message to X’ to let everyone know you’re driving and when you’ll be more available.

Louise Blain

Louise Blain is a journalist and broadcaster specialising in technology, gaming, and entertainment.  She has a weekly consumer tech slot on BBC Radio Scotland and is the presenter of BBC Radio 3's monthly Sound of Gaming show. She can also regularly be found on BBC Radio 4, BBC Five Live, and The Evolution of Horror podcast as well as writing for GamesRadar and NME. Louise loves finding ways that tech can make our lives better every day and no, she doesn't have enough smart lighting yet.