Google expands Broadcast and adds more family-friendly Assistant features

Your message can now reach your family members on their Android or iPhones.


If you're a parent or often find yourself needing to wrangle a group of people in your household, Google's latest Assistant update might be helpful. It's expanding the Broadcast tool that was previously limited to its smart speakers and displays to iPhones and Android devices. The company also announced a set of new features for the Assistant, including stories, games, songs and a Mother's Day surprise.

Broadcast lets you send a message to all compatible devices at once, and you can create groups to specify who you want to reach. Google allows you to set up a Family group for up to six of your relatives, and the expansion being announced today will let you reach these members on their phones too. Just as they already could from a Nest speaker or display, your contact can now reply to your message from their Android or iPhone.

Google Assistant smart display. An animation of the Google Nest smart display showing how the Broadcast feature works.

Google is also improving its Family Bell feature that let you set school-bell-like alarms throughout the day. Starting today, you can have Family Bells ring across multiple devices in your home at once, instead of just one. It's also adding support for eight new languages, including Japanese, Korean, Hindi, Italian, French, German, Portugese and Spanish.

The Assistant also provides educational content, and the company is adding to its library this week. It's partnered with Pottermore Publishing to provide Harry Potter stories. On a smart display or Android device, you can ask the Assistant "Tell me a Quidditch story" to learn more about the fictional sport. Google says more content from the Wizarding World is coming later in the year.

In addition to fiction, the Assistant is also getting new historical content from Penguin Random House's Who Was series. By saying "Talk to Who Was Heroes," you can listen to stories about Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Ida B. Wells, and more than 100 others. To test your knowledge after all that learning, you can also play new games like Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader on Assistant-enabled smart displays. Finally, there are also two new songs about cleaning up and brushing your teeth that Google said are meant "to help kids stay on task and do their chores." The company also teased a Mother's Day surprise for those who set a timer this weekend.