Google Home can now handle two commands at once

Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

Google Home devices can now process and complete two commands at once. As first reported by CNET and independently confirmed by The Verge, Google Home users can ask their device to do multiple things. So, for example, you could say, "Hey, Google, turn on the TV, and what's the weather?" Your TV would turn on, and Google will tell you the weather, too.

You can mix and match these commands by asking for traffic, controlling any of your connected gadgets, or telling the device to play music. These commands don't have to be predefined in the Google Home app as a specific routine. You also cannot ask for three things. The device will tell you it can't handle all three and then seems to pick one command at random to execute.

Amazon rolled out a similar feature for Alexa-equipped devices earlier this month called "routines." Users can define a trigger phrase, like, "Alexa, good morning," and the device will carry out a series of commands. These controls are set up ahead of time through the Alexa companion app, though. Google also plans to roll out routines, but these double commands make for a quick, on-the-fly solution.

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My Google Homes don’t seem to have this yet. Hopefully it’ll show up soon and isn’t restricted to the USA for some silly reason like other features.

Companies: "We will leave half of our features as US only"
Also companies: "We don’t know why people outside of the US won’t buy our products."

Upon some further testing, my devices DO have this now. I was shortening the command "turn off the desk and the kitchen lights" when I should have been saying "turn off the desk and turn off the kitchen lights".

That’s not your fault, Google needs to do better with natural language.

What are some of the features not available in the US?

Just ordered a Home Mini for Black Friday and can’t wait to get home to set it up and try it out. I already had an Echo Dot for a while does really well controlling my lights. Also, picked up a Harmen Kardon Invoke and like it a lot, it sounds great and I use Cortana the most across my device.

This will be my introduction to Google Assistant and this feature sounds great. I was actually thinking about this functionality the other day.

Same here.

Have a OG Home in the living room but couldn’t justify another one for the bedroom so the Mini is perfect. Can’t beat it for $30.

Definitely a steal. I got the Chromecast deal too, though I have no available HDMI ports for it.

"Google, hows the weather, and…" accidentally steps on Legos "Fuck me!"
"It’s sunny today, and…" whirrrrr

Still waiting on my free mini.

And Siri says "Sorry, I am not sure what you wanted me to do with that."

I have been doing this since last night, and it works… with one caveat. It doesn’t seem to be able to handle a shortcut and another command or two shortcuts.

For example: I have a shortcut that dims my lights for evening relaxation called "chill out", so I can usually just say "Hey Google, Chill Out", and the lighting scene I have set up in SmartThings activates. I often follow this up with a command to play music. If I say "Hey Google, Chill Out and shuffle my relaxation playlist" nothing happends, I have to say "Hey Google, Activate chill out and shuffle my playlist".

Not a big deal, but frustrating to figure out.

I think that that is frustrating, but phrasing is what creates phrases and phrases are what initiate commands which make things happen. It’s easy to see how Google assistant would be confused by mashing together a shortcut + a phrase because it does not know the shortcut is a discrete phrase on its own. It can only take words as the intent, and this is the next barrier for these audio assistants. I know there’s some work out there on robots that recognize your voice and your face in order to determine your mood, which would help google assistant know you were saying the shortcut "Chill Out" and another command, rather than saying "chill out" to the assistant along with the other command to play the playlist.

It’d be particularly interesting to see if Home can handle, "Hey Google, turn on the TV and play X on the TV," since you typically have to have the Home switch the TV on before it can send other commands to the Chromecast (even if that Chromecast is independently powered).

When I just say "play X on the TV", it turns on my TV and plays X. No need to ask it to turn on the TV first.

That’s not my experience, unfortunately: I have the Chromecast independently powered, but if the TV’s off and I ask the Home to play something on the TV (or on the Chromecast), it says it can’t find the device. If I ask the Home to turn the TV on, though, it does so, and then I can ask it to play something on the TV/Chromecast successfully (and it’ll happily change the inputs to find the Chromecast).

Maybe this is a regional bug?

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