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Google Assistant gets custom shortcuts for directly interacting with third-party Android apps

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Google Assistant is getting much more integrated with third-party apps on Android phones. Google is rolling out the ability to search apps and even use voice commands for popular tasks like sending messages, starting runs, or browsing your shopping cart.

While Assistant has supported opening apps through voice commands for some time, starting today, users will also be able to search within any app they have installed on Android directly from Google Assistant. And for developers that add support, Google is going even further, adding even deeper integration for Assistant to directly link out to common tasks or pages within an app using voice commands.

Previously, Assistant’s third-party support was largely limited to custom actions — effectively, apps that run within Assistant. The new functionality, though, lets Assistant work directly with apps that you have installed on your phone.


For example, you’ll be able to ask Assistant to pull up your YouTube subscriptions tab by saying “Hey Google, YouTube subscriptions,” while saying “Hey Google, My Instagram profile” will pull up your profile page within the Instagram app. (In perhaps the most ostentatious example of this, Google is supporting Nike’s Adapt sneakers, which you’ll be able to command to automatically lace up with your voice.)

To start, Google is rolling out support for around 30 applications from the top apps in the Play Store, including Facebook, Instagram, Amazon, TikTok, Spotify, Postmates, Discord, Walmart, Etsy, Snapchat, Twitter, Uber, and more. A variety of Google apps, including YouTube, Gmail, and Maps, are also included.

Developers will be able to add their own built-in integrations to their apps, enabling deep-linking for specific pages and app features, meaning that the number of apps that offer this level of integration should expand soon. Google is offering both a list of specific common functions (like posting within an app) along with the option to create custom actions, too.

To see which apps offer app-specific shortcuts, say “Hey Google, my shortcuts” to your Android phone, which will bring you to a new menu that shows which apps have shortcuts and allow you to activate specific commands. To use a shortcut, you’ll have to add it first to Google Assistant. Google offers a list of suggestions for actions based on the apps you use frequently, but you’ll also be able to view all possible actions on an app-by-app basis.

Shortcuts can also be edited with custom phrases. For example, instead of saying “Hey Google, tweet” to open the Twitter app and create a new tweet, you can customize it to perform that action with your own phrase instead, like “Hey Google, shout into the endless void.”

That said, while you can edit the trigger phrases for specific commands, you’re limited by the apps and options that each developer is offering. For example, right now, you can use a shortcut to create a new Facebook story but not a new Instagram one.

The new Assistant shortcuts aren’t as robust as Apple’s Siri Shortcuts app, which allows for far deeper customization and more complex routines (at least, for users willing to dive in and deal with the complexity of Apple’s system). But it does open up Assistant for a lot more use cases than were previously available. Assuming Google is able to continue to build out its deep-linking, it could help make Assistant even more useful and customizable going forward.

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Conquer Your Pup’s Dander and Fur With $700 Off a Cobalt or Charcoal Bobsweep PetHair Plus Robot Vacuum

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Best Home DealsBest Home DealsThe best home, kitchen, smart home, and automotive deals from around the web, updated daily.

Bobsweep PetHair Plus Robot Vacuum & Mop (Cobalt) | $200 | Best Buy

Bobsweep PetHair Plus Robot Vacuum & Mop (Charcoal) | $200 | Best Buy

Allergies can be bad enough as the seasons change. Don’t let pet hair and dander add to that by vacuuming it up early and often. That chore is easier said than done— unless you have a robot vacuum to do the work for you. This lovely bright cobalt Bobsweep PetHair Plus robot vacuum and mop, only $200 today at Best Buy seems like an ideal option. That’s a whopping $700 off, by the way.

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You can get the same deal for the charcoal version of the robot vac, too. This model is not only specially made for picking up pet hair, it self docks and charges when it’s finished with the work.

It also comes with a mop attachment, so it can take care of those kitchen floors for you as well. Grab it while it’s still available for this fantastic price!

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Apple will replace AirPods Pro for free with faulty noise cancellation, static or crackling

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Today, exactly one year after Apple first launched the AirPods Pro — and thus the same day the very first AirPods Pro owners will see their one-year warranties expire — Apple has launched a repair program that offers free repairs or replacements for another whole year if your AirPods Pro experience issues with noise cancellation or static.

Specifically, Apple will fix:

Crackling or static sounds that increase in loud environments, with exercise or while talking on the phone

Active Noise Cancellation not working as expected, such as a loss of bass sound, or an increase in background sounds, such as street or airplane noise

Apple says only a “small percentage of AirPods Pro” are affected by the issues, but it apparently wasn’t just an early batch — Apple says affected units were manufactured “before October 2020,” meaning every AirPods Pro ever made might be eligible. That’s quite a recall if so. Apple says it will repair faulty AirPods Pro for two years after you first buy them.

We’ve heard complaints about degraded noise cancellation before, and at least one Verge editor has replaced their AirPods Pro under warranty. It’s nice to hear that Apple isn’t just cutting buyers off as soon as that warranty expires.

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This 55″ 4K TCL Smart TV Hangs on Your Wall for $200

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Best Tech DealsBest Tech DealsThe best tech deals from around the web, updated daily.

TCL 55″ S434 4K Smart TV | $200 | Best Buy

Best Buy has an insane deal going for a brand new 55″ 4K TCL smart TV. It’s the S434, which is pretty baseline for TCL’s lineup, but at just $200, there’s little to complain about. TCL’s panels are plenty sharp and accurate, and with this set, you’ll get HDR10 compliance for enhanced color and brightness in supported games and video content. This model has Android TV onboard for all your app needs, and with an included voice remote, all your favorite content is just a shout away with the help of Google Assistant.

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