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Smart Home

Google Assistant gets native controls for ovens, coffee makers and more

The days of asking Google to ask LG or Rachio to talk to your refrigerator or sprinkler are blessedly almost over.

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You'll soon have an easier time controlling your smart home with Google. 

Josh Miller/CNET

After all the bombast over Duplex had died down, Google quietly rolled out a more immediately relevant smart home upgrade at Google's I/O Developer Conference. During a developer keynote session, the search giant revealed nine new device types that will now work natively with Google Assistant -- blinds, kettles, ovens, refrigerators, air purifiers, fans, air conditioners, coffee makers and sprinklers.

Google Assistant is the company's voice-controlled digital helper similar to Amazon's Alexa. You can talk to Google Assistant on your smartphone or a smart speaker such as a Google Home to control more than 5,000 devices. With support for native integrations, third-party developers can add Google Assistant controls to their devices, and they won't have to include clunky extra activation language. 

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Without native integration, you might find yourself struggling to remember the voice commands necessary to turn on your oven. For example, controlling a smart oven with Google Assistant means saying something like, "Hey, Google, ask LG to preheat the oven to 350 degrees."

You have to wake up Google with the first part, then activate LG's specific skill. With native integrations, you can just say, "Hey, Google, preheat the oven to 350 degrees." Dropping that one extra part of the phrase will make a big difference if you repeatedly want to issue voice commands.  

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In addition to the new device types, Google's launched new three "traits" as well -- which are smart home commands Google Assistant can recognize -- fan speed, temp control and locator. The first is obviously necessary to control fans, the second controls ovens and the last will allow Google Assistant to work with Bluetooth trackers like the Tile.

Notice there aren't new traits for all of the new device types. Developers can actually use existing traits, such as on or off, to control things like a coffee maker or a sprinkler. A Google representative clarified that temp control was a new necessity since the way you control oven temp would vary greatly from the existing temp commands you'd give to your thermostat. Developers can pull the rest of the controls they'd need from other devices.  

Google's just officially rolling out these changes to developers at 2 p.m. PT today, so you might have to wait for store shelves to be filled with coffee makers you can control with your voice, but the change will undoubtedly make controlling your smart home easier, and that's important. Whirlpool's already taken advantage of the change with its large appliances.

Google I/O: All our coverage of this year's developer conference.

Google Assistant could become the most lifelike AI yet: Experimental technology called Duplex, rolling out soon in a limited release, makes you think you're talking to a real person.