Google Assistant is a very popular voice-controlled assistant, and it is no longer limited to Android – iOS users can have it, too, without jailbreaking. If you ask why would anyone want a Google Assistant when iOS devices have Siri, the answer would be – ecosystem. Siri is great, but Google Assistant has a slew of apps it syncs with and enables sync across different devices. In other words, it is optimized better for a streamlined experience.
Here is a brief list of things Google Assistant lets you do, aside from voice searches:
- search answers to your questions
- set appointments, reminders, calendar events
- send SMS, emails
- make phone calls
- play music
- integrate and sync with other Google apps
- set location-based reminders
Install the app from the App Store – the instruction ends here if you are located in the US. If you are outside the US and trying to find the app on the app store by yourself, you won’t be able to. Likewise, and worse yet, is if you are trying to install it on an iPad – that is because it’s optimized for iPhones.
So, if you are having trouble finding the app, just open the link. If you are outside the US, you will be prompted to change stores. If you are downloading for an iPad, you will get the iPhone app.
The Google Assistant widget gives you instant access to many of its features. If you run the latest iOS version, it resides to the left of your app drawer.
Otherwise, find it in the pull-down menu → swipe left → scroll down → tap edit → see the list of active/inactive widgets → drag Google Assistant widget to the active ones → Done.
Using the widget
You can customize the widget’s shortcuts the way you like.
Open the widget → on the right top tap More Options → Settings → Shortcuts → see the list of default shortcuts. These shortcuts sync across your devices.
Here, you can add custom shortcuts, such as send SMS to a particular contact, or play a particular playlist, or send custom messages in response to calls from specific contacts. It’s rather robust, and you can tweak it to your heart’s content.
The main nuisance with Google Assistant on iOS is that it won’t launch if you say “Okay Google” as it does on Android devices. You have to tap the widget to trigger it. That behavior limitation is due to the fact that Siri won’t quite let you use another voice-controlled digital assistant over it. Other than that, Google Assistant is neat – you just have to know how to use it.