Google Assistant is, without question, the most powerful and user-friendly virtual assistant on the market. Powered by AI, Assistant can help you with so many things: from answering questions to scheduling to making reservations to getting the latest weather from Mars–and even helping you with your bedtime routine. Yet for most users, the depth and breadth of what Assistant can do goes largely untapped. Why? Because it can do so much.

With that in mind, I thought I’d share with you five tasks that can make your busy life a bit easier. Of course everyone’s idea of “easier” varies, so I’m going to attempt to make these as broad and universal as possible … at least within the realm of IT. Keep in mind, this is about making your life a bit easier, not more productive. (A side effect of easing up your busy day is that you can be more productive, but that’s not the focus.)

And so, on with the tasks.

1. Add to shopping list

Whether you’re shopping for a family, your department, a client, a job, or yourself, it can be a daunting task to keep track of what you need to purchase … especially when you’re on the go. Driving to a client? The last thing you need is to pull out that phone (or a piece of paper and pencil) to remind yourself to pick up Cat5 cable. Instead, use Google Assistant.

It should be noted, this task works better when you have Google Express installed. Without it, the shopping list Google Assistant uses will be accessible only through a web browser.

To add items to your shopping list, just say:

Hey (or OK) Google; add ITEM to my shopping list

where ITEM is the item you want to add.

The one caveat to this is that if you tap either the View List or the Show Me My Shopping List buttons ( Figure A), Assistant will open the web version of your shopping list.

Figure A

If you want to open Google Express to view your shopping list, you must open it manually, from either the home screen or App Drawer.

SEE: Mobile device computing policy (Tech Pro Research)

2. Where can I buy…

Speaking of shopping… Say you’re working with a client in another town and you need, you guessed it, Cat5 cable. If you’re unfamiliar with the area, all you have to do is turn to Google Assistant and say:

Hey (or OK) Google, where can I buy Cat5 cable?

Google Assistant will pop up all the nearest locations to purchase that item ( Figure B).

Figure B

3. Check local traffic

If you’re a freelance support professional and your clients are all over town, you know traffic can be a real hindrance to your staying on schedule. Fortunately, Google Assistant can help you out with that. Simply say:

Hey (or OK) Google, check local traffic

Assistant will audibly report to you any issues in your local area (according to your GPS). You will also be given a map to view ( Figure C).

Figure C

Tap on the map to view local areas of interest and get other information. All traffic issues, however, will be reported audibly.

4. Set a reminder

We all need to be reminded of things now and again. Google Assistant is much better than tying a string around your finger or relying on your memory (especially when you’re juggling a kazillion things at once). So to set a reminder, all you need to do is say:

Hey (or OK) Google, remind me to X

where X is the thing you want to be reminded about. Google Assistant will then ask you when you want to be reminded, and once you’ve give it a time frame, whether you want to save the reminder.

That’s all there is to it. You no longer have to type a Google Calendar reminder (as you once did with Google Now). When the time for your reminder has arrived, you’ll be glad you didn’t depend upon your memory (as you would have completely forgotten what it was you needed to remember). Thankfully, Google Assistant is there to help.

SEE: IT pro’s guide to the evolution and impact of 5G technology (free TechRepublic PDF)

5. When is my meeting?

A client was late for a meeting, or a job went over time. Because of this, you’re scrambling to catch up and everything is falling apart. You need to keep track of your schedule. Thankfully, Google Assistant can help you.

Ask: Hey (or OK) Google, when is my next meeting?

Google Assistant will then announce to you what your next meeting is and the time of it. If you’re running late, have Google Assistant dial the phone number of that client; you can then give them the bad news (in a tactful, professional manner) that you’re running behind … but are on the way.

Google Assistant has much more to offer

These little tips merely scratch the surface of what Google Assistant can do. But this short list will put you on track with getting to know how well Assistant can help make your busy life a bit easier.

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Your thoughts

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