The best feature of Google Assistant headphones is interacting with incoming messages and notifications. On Android phones, you’ve long been able to get those voice features with the default SMS client. Google is now expanding Assistant’s ability to read messages to all third-party messaging apps.
As spotted by this morning, the “Read my messages” command on your phone’s Assistant now works with all direct messaging services. In our testing, this includes Google Voice and Slack, as well as major apps like WhatsApp and Telegram. Twitter direct messages are not a supported notification by Assistant, while it had a hard time distinguishing between one-to-one and group Slack conversations.
This is a significant expansion beyond SMS/RCS and Hangouts that’s long overdue. It can be accessed with “Read my messages,” “What are my messages,” or “Do I have any notifications,” with the latter phrase not including alerts from other applications.
If you’ve never allowed “notification access” for the Google app either due to Assistant headphones or Assistant car accessories, you’ll have to do so now. After granting, Google will visually and verbally note how many unread messages you have.
Notifications are presented as cards that note the sender and message, along with a timestamp. You can jump into the app directly with a shortcut in the bottom-left corner or start replying through Assistant.
There is an accompanying voice workflow for responding if you need a hands-free experience, but you can also open the keyboard. Assistant provides a voice transcript before sending the message with verbal confirmation or button press required.
You can swipe through cards to see other messages, but Assistant encourages voice commands. The ability for Google Assistant to read messages is live on both the stable (10.28) and beta version (10.33) of the Google app. As of today, it appears to be widely rolled out.