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Google Home’s best feature just got way more useful

Google just made one of the best Google Home features a lot more powerful.

I’m talking about the “broadcast” feature, which essentially turns your Google Home device into an in-home intercom system.

First rolled out a year ago, the feature lets you send messages using the Google Assistant app or another Google Home speaker in a separate location. But up until now, those messages could only go one way.

So, for example, you could broadcast from your phone that you were on your way home, or send one from a kitchen speaker letting the rest of your family know that dinner is ready. But the person receiving the message had no way of responding, so you could never actually be sure your message was heard.

That’s now changing. Google is adding reply functionality so you can reply to broadcasts with your own voice messages — essentially turning your Google Home not just into an intercom, but a walkie-talkie. The feature will be rolling out “in the coming weeks,

What’s more, the update also does a little to solve the problem of how you receive broadcasts if you have more than one Google Home. Though the initial incoming message will still play over all your devices, subsequent replies will only play over the speaker you reply from.

In addition to broadcast replies, Google is adding a few other new features to its Home speakers, including:

  • A new recipes feature that surfaces “suggested recipes” on Google Home products with a display. You can also save recipes you like in a dedicated “cookbook.”
  • A kid-oriented feature that lets you set alarms in the voice of cartoon characters, like the Ninja Turtles.
  • New playback controls for audiobooks and podcasts so you can change the playback speed to be faster or slower.

Looks like Home speaker users have more reason to utilize the tech more often now.

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