Readers like you help support Android Police. When you make a purchase using links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Read More.

If you've used an Android device for any time, you've probably encountered Google Assistant at some point. While some manufacturers prioritize their smart assistants (for example, Samsung's Bixby), Google Assistant can be installed and used on any Android device. It's also accessible through compatible smart speakers and displays.

Google Assistant is a helpful tool, but despite its widespread adoption, you may not be familiar with what it's capable of. This article explains what Google Assistant is and how to use it. Whether you're trying it out for the first time or have used it since its release on the original Google Pixel phone, you'll find this guide useful.

What is Google Assistant?

Google Assistant is a smart virtual assistant that lets you use voice commands to perform tasks or answer questions. Depending on the device, Google Assistant has different capabilities. You can open phone apps, set alarms, text contacts, check the weather, answer queries, control lights and thermostats, and check headphone battery levels. These are just a few things you can do. Check Google's list of all commands to see everything Google Assistant can do.

Google Assistant is also used to create Routines. A routine is a string of multiple actions combined into one. For example, you can set a routine to turn on your lights and report the weather with one command. If you're unsure of where to start, our roundup of the best routines for Google Assistant will get you started.

How to use Google Assistant

Google Assistant is built into the Google Android app, so most Android phones have it installed by default. If you're a Samsung Galaxy smartphone owner, you can completely disable Bixby and use Google Assistant instead. You can also install a shortcut to the Assistant from the Google Play Store if you want, but this isn't required to use it.

By default, you'll also find Google Assistant on various smart displays and smart home devices. Google Nest has an array of smart speakers and smart displays that have Assistant built-in, and a growing number of televisions are among compatible devices.

Regardless of the device, you can activate Google Assistant using the "Hey, Google" command. But there are additional ways to activate it depending on the device:

  • Tap the Assistant shortcut, which you can install from the Google Play Store.
  • Tap the microphone icon in the Google Search widget.
  • Google Pixel phones: Press and hold the power button. Some older Pixel phones have an Active Edge squeeze gesture to trigger it.
  • Other Android devices: Swipe in from either of the screen's bottom corners.
  • iPhone: Tap the home button or open the Google Assistant for iOS app. You can find Google Assistant in the App Store.

How to change your Google Assistant settings

You can change a lot about how Google Assistant works on your device, and here's how to access its settings.

  1. Open the Google app.
  2. Tap your profile picture in the upper-right corner of your screen.
  3. Tap Settings.
  4. From the Settings menu, tap Google Assistant.

Here you can change settings, including:

  • Enable or disable the "Hey Google" command and retrain it to recognize your voice.
  • Set up Google Assistant to recognize different voices. This is especially useful if multiple people use Google Assistant-enabled smart home devices in a household.
  • Change the language of your Assistant.
  • Allow Assistant to be used on the lock screen.
  • Allow Assistant to access personal information.
  • Create Routines.
  • Set and manage Reminders.
  • Choose what service Assistant will use to play music.

What devices is Google Assistant found on?

Google Assistant is found on a lot more than Android phones and smart home devices. A list of compatible devices would not fit in this article, but here are some of the best devices compatible with Google Assistant.

Security cameras

Many of the best security cameras have Google Assistant support. Link your camera to a smart display like the Google Nest Hub, and you can issue commands like "What's on [camera name]?"


Google Assistant support for smartwatches means you can check the weather, look up directions, or text contacts while out for exercise. Not all include Google Assistant, but many of the best smartwatches have it built-in.


Google Assistant support for headphones isn't as widespread as it could be, but more options are being released often. Depending on the product, you may even be able to control it hands-free with the "Hey, Google" command, like with the Google Pixel Buds Pro.

Google Pixel smartphone tricks

Google Assistant was originally exclusive to Pixel phones, and while this is no longer the case, there are a few exclusive features for Pixel devices.

How to activate Quick Phrases

On Google Pixel 6 phones, Google Assistant has a nifty setting that allows you to give it specific simple commands without saying "Hey Google" first. This setting is called Quick Phrases.

  1. Open the Settings app on your Pixel 6.
  2. Tap Apps.
  3. Tap Assistant.
  4. To enable Quick Phrases, tap Quick phrases. You may want to use the search bar to locate this setting; it's pretty far down the list.
  5. Toggle the slider for the tasks you wish to enable Quick phrases for.

How to activate Continued Conversation

On recent Google Pixel phones (Pixel 4 or newer), you can set the Assistant to listen for follow-up questions after it answers you; no "Hey Google" required. For example, after an alarm goes off, you can say, "Stop." This feature is called Continued Conversation.

  1. Open the Settings app on your Google Pixel phone.
  2. Tap Apps.
  3. Tap Assistant.
  4. To enable Continued Conversation, toggle the Continued Conversation slider on.

​​​​​Google Assistant isn't the only virtual assistant

If you've never tried Google Assistant before, give it a go. You don't have to be a tech wizard to make the most of it. It can genuinely help you in your day-to-day life. Suppose you've tried Google Assistant—especially with the Google Home app for home automation—and found it confusing or unintuitive. In that case, you may want to give Amazon's Alexa lineup a try.