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Google Assistant will work from your locked Android phone soon

Plus, you'll be able to check in to flights with just your voice -- even on the iPhone.

Angela Lang/CNET

Google has made CES 2019 a battleground on which to pit the full weight of Google Assistant against Amazon's Alexa assistant. In particular, Google's bringing new skills such as the ability to engage Google Assistant while an Android phone is locked, and using it to check in to some flights on either an iPhone or Android device. Assistant sprinkles on some other goodies, too, like being able to answer messages with your voice, and finding your notes.

First, the lock screen trick. Let's say your phone is locked but you still want to ask a few simple questions when you've got both hands on the wheel, pulling dinner from the oven, holding a squirmy child, you get the idea. If you opt in through Google Assistant settings, you can ask your locked phone to set up and turn off alarms, search nearby restaurants and schedule a timer. You can also give Assistant the green light to flash answers to your questions on the screen about the time, your calendar, traffic and so on.

Google Assistant isn't as secure from the lock screen as it is from the home screen after you've unlocked the phone, but it will use Voice Match technology to respond just to you (or to someone who sounds a lot like you). It'll work with Pixel phones like the Pixel 3 and 3 XL, and with the Pixel Stand, and you can adjust the settings.

google-assistant-flight-check-in

Checking in to your flight with Google Assistant will make at least one part of travel hassle-free.

Google

'Hey, Google, check in to my flight'

Anything that improves air travel deserves a clap on the back and a bottle of beer. Very soon, Google will let you check in to your flight and save and call up your boarding pass with Google Assistant on Android and iOS. 

The magic here is that you don't need your confirmation number to check in, so long as your flight confirmation emails go to your Gmail account. Google Assistant flight check-in will roll out "in the next few days," starting first with United's US flights. Yes, the new feature will only work with partner airline carriers.

Another travel perk is that Google Assistant will also be able to book a room at partner hotels and sites such as InterContinental, AccorHotels, Choice Hotels, Priceline, Mirai and TravelClick -- that is, if you already know the name of the hotel you want to stay at. This could be a boon if you've got loyalty status. 

Reply to your messages, find your notes

Here are some other newfound Google Assistant capabilities headed your way:

  • Google Assistant will automatically add punctuation to your messages on Android and iPhone. Grammar geeks, rejoice! 
  • On Android, Assistant can read and reply to notifications from text messages and messaging apps like Android Messages, WhatsApp, Messenger, Hangouts, Viber and Telegram.
  • If you want to use Google Assistant to keep track of your notes, it's gaining support for Google Keep, Todoist, Any.do and Bring.
Now playing: Watch this: Previewing Google's 2019
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These new Google Assistant experiences for the phone are among several high-profile announcements that Google revealed at CES 2019 in Las Vegas.

CES 2019: See all of CNET's coverage of the year's biggest tech show.

CES schedule: It's six days of jam-packed events. Here's what to expect.