Google’s smart speaker got a little smarter this week, with the addition of a multitasking feature. The new capability makes it possible for the device to accomplish two different missions at the same time. It was rolled out with little fanfare and first noted by CNET. We’ve since confirmed the addition with Google.
It’s a bit surprising that the company rolled it out to Home units with no mention. It’s a handy addition to what’s essentially been a single-minded device. The company has been promising to add Routines since the Pixel 2 event a few months back, essentially creating pre-determined scenes that tie a bunch of actions to a command (something that’s been supported by both Siri and Alexa for a while). This is something else, though.
Rather than having to preload all of that via an app, you can simply ask it to perform two jobs simultaneously. Only two, though. Not three or four — that would be flying a little too close to the sun. You also have to separate tasks into individual commands, as the device won’t understand two tasks crammed into the same sentence. Even though it’s limited, the silently released feature is arguably more handy than the forthcoming Routines as it can be accomplished on the fly.
In spite of letting Alexa get a pretty massive head start, Google’s done a pretty solid job playing catch-up to the Echo’s existing skill set. The new one comes as the company readies Home Max, a premium addition to the Home line due out sometime next month.