After being announced last year and then going into virtual hiding for more development work, Routines for the Google Assistant appear to finally be ready to launch. Initial appearances and impressions drawn from Google’s support page and some actual testing reveal a system that is probably much more limited than what was hoped for by those who have been waiting for this addition to the Google ecosystem. Google is limiting Routines to just six options with each one have a preset list of potential commands and actions that can be added to it. Of the six Routines, two of them are only available on mobile devices like a smartphone with the others being available on phones, tablets, or other devices like Google Home speakers.
The six Routines that Google is rolling out include:
- Good morning
- Leaving home
- I’m home
- Commuting to work
- Commuting home
The last two “commuting” based Routines will only work on smartphones. One positive thing that has surfaced is that the Routines are voice-dependent, so multiple users can have their own specific Routine setup that can be accessed via a shared device, like a Google Home speaker.
The commands that will be available cover typical stuff that users were probably doing individually already, like adjusting volumes, switching silent mode on or off, setting lighting levels, thermostats or other connected devices, getting information from calendars, weather services, and commute updates, and launching music or streaming services. For the commuting options, Google added in steps like alerting Home speakers you are on the way or handling messaging chores while you may be indisposed.
One thing that seems to be murky at the moment is how services, apps or hardware that is operated outside the standard commands being made available may be accessed as part of a Routine or if that will even be possible. For now it looks like users wanting this additional level of control and access may be out of luck. That could certainly change over time as Google starts to get feedback on what is working and what needs fixing when it comes to Routines.
If you use the Google Assistant already, will Routines be a valuable addition for you or could their presence give you some incentive to start using the Google Assistant if you have not been using it regularly?