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9 ways Google Assistant can help with Thanksgiving

Google Assistant is available on all sorts of devices around your home. From a basic smartphone to smart speakers, smart displays like the Nest Hub Max, Google Chromecast, and lots more, the assistant is often only a “Hey Google” away from helping. That feature comes in really handy around Thanksgiving, when there’s a whole lot to do and not a lot of time to do it. Here’s how Google Assistant can help make your holiday gathering a little easier.

Look up recipes and ingredient conversions

Google nest hub in kitchen.

If you have a Nest smart display or an Android phone, you can tap any recipe you find and say, “Hey Google, add to my cookbook.” Then, when you’re ready in the kitchen, you can simply ask to see your cookbook. With compatible recipes and devices, you can even say, “Hey Google, start cooking,” in a recipe, and Google will walk you through the steps (this trick is primarily for smart displays).

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When you actually start cooking, you can use Google Assistant to set important timers, which is really handy when you’re juggling multiple timers simultaneously. Or you can ask any kind of recipe questions, like, “What’s a substitute for zucchini?” or “How many ounces are in a cup?” You can even ask Thanksgiving questions like, “How do I brine a turkey?” or “How long do I thaw a turkey?”

Set important reminders

Drawing of a family with a Nest Hub.

If there’s a lot on your Thanksgiving plate, you can avoid forgetting things with Google Assistant. Ask it to set reminders for important events. That could be anything from “get ready to get the turkey out of the oven” to “remind Uncle Kevin to take his medication.” Remember to specify a time for Google Assistant to send you an alert about the message it saved for you.

Let Google Assistant wait for you when your phone calls are put on hold

Pixel Hold for Me screen message.

Does your Thanksgiving involve tons of booking rooms or making reservations? That can mean a lot of wait time on the phone: If you have a Pixel phone, you should look into Hold for Me, a special Google Assistant capability that will keep the line open and monitor it for a real person. When someone shows up, Google Assistant will send you a notification. You can even monitor recorded messages from afar as Google Assistant will display their text on-screen.

Get cooking with the right meat thermometer

Fireboard Thermometer.

A meat thermometer monitors the internal temperature of large meat dishes (among other things), and smart versions can send alerts to your phone or allow you remote control. Some models work directly with Google Home and Google Assistant, so you can use tools that you are already familiar with and ask questions about the progress of your meat. One of the most popular is FireBoard, but other smart thermometers are compatible, too.

Order your last-minute groceries

Vegetable prep on a countertop.

Are there some last-minute ingredients, utensils, or other important purchases you forgot to make before you started cooking your Thanksgiving meal? Don’t worry – Google Assistant can help you shop right from your kitchen — as long as you are willing to use the Walmart grocery service like this. It even makes suggestions for particular types of food if you aren’t sure what you want! Then just have someone swing by for a quick pickup.

If you’re a few days out, make sure you have a payment method connected to Google Assistant, and then you can use voice commands to order products from a variety of stores, including Walmart, Target, Costco, PetSmart, Walgreens, and others.

Raise and lower the temperature

The Google Nest Audio.

Nest thermostats allow you to easily set a new thermostat temperature with a word to Google Assistant, and a number of other smart thermostats from brands like Honeywell and Emerson also work with Google Assistant. That targeted control comes in pretty handy during Thanksgiving. When the kitchen is going full steam and the house is crowded, you may be glad to have the option to turn the temperature down a few degrees. Or when it’s getting late and grandma is starting to complain about being cold, you can turn up the heat a notch with a word.

Turn on the big games

People watching sports on the 50-inch Vizio V-Series 4K TV.

Sure, Google Assistant can give you the latest scores for any Thanksgiving game. But why stop there? If you have a Google Chromecast or a TV that supports Google TV or Android TV, you can control it with Google Assistant commands, including finding the right sports channel, turning up the volume, and more. If you have a connected speaker that supports Google Assistant, like a Sonos soundbar, even better! That way, you don’t need to find the remote to switch between games or get the channel you want.

Get in touch with distant family members

Nest Hub Max Hands-On Review.
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Google Assistant can also start a voice chat with anyone in your contacts, including via a Nest Audio speaker — or even a video chat if you have something like the Nest Hub. That feature makes it really easy to connect with family members who may not be able to be present (they’ll need Google Assistant too, but that’s fairly easy to arrange). Don’t let Thanksgiving go by without making sure you make contact with all of your loved ones.

Entertain the kids

Kid and dad looking at Google Max.

Remember, Google Assistant is always on hand to entertain the kids for a while. Just ask it to play a game, or pick something specific like Mad Libs. You can even ask for a Thanksgiving game — Google often adds seasonal activities to Google Assistant. This feature works best with a Nest smart speaker if you have one!

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