10 useful tools you can unlock using Google Search, Google Assistant or the Google app on your phone «Smartphones :: Gadget Hacks

10 useful tools you can unlock using Google Search, Google Assistant or the Google app on your phone «Smartphones :: Gadget Hacks

Google has some hidden tools you might not have discovered yet, and they work in Google Search, in the Google app, and with Google Assistant — on both iPhone and Android phones.

We all know that smartphones do a lot more than make calls. They function as cameras, GPS navigators, music players, portable TVs, web browsers and even flashlights, making other gadgets that serve these singular purposes almost obsolete.

But your phone can replace other tools, such as dice, guitar tuners and bubble levels, with help from Google. And you don’t need to install an app to access them unless you want to use the Google or Google Assistant apps and don’t already have one (many Android phones come with at least one pre-installed).

Google’s search tool

These tools below are available on your iPhone or Android phone by performing a Google search in your browser at google.com or by searching in the free Google app for iOS or Android. Some of them can even be called with Google Assistant.

When searching for these tools, you can press the button with the downward pointing chevron to find the other available tools. You’ll see a tab for games and toys, but we’re currently focusing on the tools. All but one of these tools are also available via desktop browsers.

1. Flip a coin

Search “drop a coin” to access Google Coin. The virtual coin will spin and flip before landing on a side. Press the “FLIP AGAIN” button to repeat.

2. Roll a die or set of dice

Search Google for “roll a die” or “roll the dice” to roll a six-sided die. You can also specify more dice and other types of dice.

There are dice with 4, 6, 8, 10, 12 and 20 sides. For example, “roll 3 d12” gives you a trio of 12-sided dice, while “roll 5 d20” gives you five 20-sided dice. Google will display the dice and the resulting total number.

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With the on-screen interface, you can press the “Roll” button to roll the dice again. Tap the dice in the white space to remove them. On the toolbar below the white area, tap the dice options to roll an additional die on the white area. You can also press the +/- button to add a modifier to the roll total.

3. Spinning

If you prefer to spin a wheel for the random number generator, Google has you covered too. Search for “Spinner” to access the standard six-number spinner. You can activate it by swiping the wheel or pressing the “SPIN” button below it. Above the spinner on the left is a drop-down menu to customize the wheel size, with space for up to 20 numbers. Above and to the right, you’ll see a button to toggle between a number and a fidget spinner, which also responds to touch gestures.

4. Bubble level

This requires access to the motion and orientation sensors found in the smartphone or tablet, which means it won’t work in the desktop browser. On iPhones and iPads, tap the “Touch to Enable” button and then tap the “Allow” button to give Google access to movement and orientation.

When it’s active, place any edge of your smartphone on the surface you’re trying to smooth. A virtual spirit level will give you a visual indication of how level the surface is, along with a reading of how many degrees it is off from being level. You can also place the device flat on horizontal surfaces such as floors and tables.

An iPhone can already do this in the Measure app, but Google’s works just as well.

An iPhone standing up on a flat surface (left) versus lying on a flat surface (right).

5. Color picker

Search “color picker” to find this invaluable tool for graphic designers. Drag the slider to select a swatch, then tap and drag the cursor in the color spectrum to call the specific color. You can also adjust the RGB and CMYK values ​​or enter a HEX code to find a specific color.

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Once you’ve landed on the color you want, tap the copy button next to the HEX code to copy it to your keyboard’s clipboard, or tap and select the other values ​​to copy them.

6. Google Tuner

This won’t replace the Boss Tuner on my pedalboard for live shows, but it’s a handy option for impromptu practice at home.

After searching for “Google Tuner” via the browser or the Google app for iOS, tap the microphone. On iPhones and iPads, you need to grant Google microphone access permissions. Now start playing your instrument or singing notes. The tuner will measure your output and let you know if you need to turn it up or down.

If you open Google Tuner via the Google app on Android, press the “Tune” button. This will open the tuner in a new web page. Tap the microphone to start tuning.

7. Metronome

While not as elegant as a mechanical metronome, it does the job for practicing. After searching Google for “metronome”, drag the slider or press the + or – sign to dial in the beats per minute, then press play to produce clicks in 4/4 time.

8. Meditate

Search for “Meditate” to access this one-minute breathing exercise. Press the play button, then follow the animated breathing instructions.

9. Calculator

This tool is largely obscure, considering that every iPhone and Android smartphone comes with a calculator app. However, iPads notoriously don’t come with a stock calculator app, so if you don’t feel like buying a calculator app, using an ad-supported one, or trying calculations in Spotlight, you can search Google for “calculator.”

On smartphones you can switch between standard and scientific, but on desktops and tablets you get both versions side by side. Note: this is the one tool that does not allow you to access the other tools.

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The calculator via Google Search on an iPad.

10. Choose a number

Although this tool does not appear among the extended carousel of tools, it provides access to it. Search “pick a number” and the search engine will return a result between 1 and 10. You can change the minimum and maximum as you wish, then press the “GENERATE” button to select again.

Google Assistant commands

For those using Google Assistant via the iOS or Android mobile app or a Google Nest smart home screen, you can ask Google to access the tools below. Each is accompanied by a neat animation of the tool and the resulting number. You can repeat the action or access the other tools by pressing the buttons at the bottom of the screen.

  • Drop a coin: Say “Ok Google, flip a coin,” and the assistant will flip a virtual coin on the screen while announcing the result. There are four different coins the assistant will flip for variety.
  • Dice roll: Ask Google to “roll the dice” to roll a six-sided die. You can ask Google to roll more dice by adding the number to the command (eg “OK Google, roll two dice”) or roll a specific type of die (eg “OK Google, roll three D20 dice »).
  • Choose a number: Ask Google to pick a number between two numbers, and the assistant rolls out a ball with the randomly generated number on it.

These commands also work with Google Nest smart speakers, although the speakers will only dictate the audio output.

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Cover image and screenshots by Tommy Palladino/Gadget Hacks

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