Google’s smart assistant can now help families with kids at taking classes online from home

Google’s Family Bell feature for phones and its smart hubs can remind your family of events throughout the day.

Todd Haselton | CNBC

Google on Tuesday announced several fun new features that may help parents and kids manage time while they’re learning at home due to the spread of coronavirus.

One option that stands out as particularly compelling is called “Family Bell.” If you say “Hey Google, create a Family Bell,” to your smart speaker with Google Assistant, you’ll be able to create bells throughout the day for things like lunch time, homework time, nap time, a reminder when a virtual class starts, or when school starts and ends.

One example Google provided was setting up the smart voice assistant to announce “It’s 3 p.m., time for drum class!” You can set this up on Google’s Nest Hub, smart speakers, or through the Google Assistant app on Android or iPhone.

Google said its Nest Hubs — those are Google’s smart screens that are similar to Amazon Echo Show devices — will be able to take this all a step further. They can play school background sounds — one example Google provided was “kids ruffling through their locker.” I’m not sure how useful that is, but I guess the idea is it’ll help your kids feel a bit more like they’re back in a school environment. You just say “Hey Google, start the school day” or “Hey Google, school’s in session,” to start playing those noises. If you have smart lights, you can also configure them to flash orange, red and yellow to signify school is beginning.

Finally, Google’s Nest Hub and smart speakers are getting more granular broadcast controls. Right now, you can use them as a sort of in-home intercom if you ask Google Assistant to “broadcast” something to all of the speakers. Now, Google is rolling out a feature that will let you call a specific room, like your child’s bedroom to let them know dinner is ready.

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