Google Assistant now gives you more control over connected devices

Tell your washer exactly what to do with Custom Device Actions.

Google Assistant has already had control over appliances and other not-so-typical connected devices for a while, but it's been clunky and limited. You could turn your oven on with a simple command, but setting the temperature required that you launch an app first. That won't be a problem from now on: Google has enabled Custom Device Actions, or commands that let you perform hardware-specific tasks. LG's appliances, for example, no longer require that you start with "talk to LG" -- you can set your fridge temperature with a single, simple phrase like "set the refrigerator temperature to 35 degrees."

There are further Assistant updates regardless of how connected your home might be. Actions now include more advanced media playback for formats beyond music and podcasts. You can listen to clips from TV shows or a white noise generator, for instance, and get control over it like you would any other media format. You can also subscribe to daily updates and other notifications on your phone if you always want the latest news, and there's now a browsing carousel when you have a plethora of visual choices (clearly, this only works on screen-equipped devices).

While all these updates are helpful, Custom Device Actions may hold the most potential. It's not just that it gives you the straightforward smart home control you expect. This should open the door to voice control over devices where it wasn't practical before, including gadgets designed primarily for spoken commands.