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Smart Home

Use Google Home as your family dinner bell with Broadcast

The Broadcast feature for the Google Assistant launches today, so you can let everyone know it's time to eat with a simple command.

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Broadcast a message to all connected Google speakers. 

Chris Monroe/CNET

Google Assistant's newest feature wants to help you save your voice when you make family announcements. Instead of shouting up the stairs when it's time for a meal or a meeting, just issue a command to Google's digital helper and it can broadcast your announcement for you.

First announced in October, Google's Broadcast feature starts rolling out Monday. Say, "OK Google, broadcast 'it's time for school'" to any device equipped with Google Assistant, and that message will play on any other Assistant-enabled speakers in your home. Certain messages, such as, "OK Google, broadcast 'it's dinner time'" will even include custom sound effects. The dinner time example will ring a dinner bell.

Google Assistant is built into Google's voice activated smart speakers -- the Google Home and Google Home Mini -- as well as certain phones such as the Google Pixel. You can also download the Assistant to your iPhone. According to Google's blog post, you can issue the broadcasting command to any device equipped with Google Assistant and it will play your message on any speaker (so not phones) linked to the same Google account.

Broadcast adds to Google's impressive list of features for its digital assistant. You can also use it to search the internet, check your calendar, make a to do list, control your smart home, and the list keeps growing.

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Google needs to keep adding features to keep up with Amazon's similarly capable assistant Alexa. Google and Amazon have been in a digital assistant arms race for months, with the two alternating as to which is chasing the other's advancements. Alexa can't yet broadcast, but can send a message to another individual Alexa device. If this feature proves popular, it'll be Amazon's turn to play catch-up.

I imagine Broadcast will be popular for those who own multiple Google Home devices. You'll be able to use it to yell at your kids from anywhere in your house. Plus, you can announce when you're coming home and gather your family easily when you're there -- making Google's smart speakers that much smarter for a large family in a large home.