Here's another way to use that new Google Home device you got for Christmas -- say "Okay Google, Talk to Access Salt Lake." (It'll work with your phone too.)

On Black Friday, I picked up my first Google Home Mini.

Okay, I admit it. I got three: "charcoal" colored for the living room, "chalk" for the office, and "coral" for the bedroom. The whole family had a lot of fun trying out all the things we could ask it to do. We use the "broadcast" feature to call people to dinner. And the kids use it all the time to set timers for their required daily reading, for each others' turns on the PS4 (there's a whole lotta Fortnite going on here during the school break), and more.

It didn't take long for me to wonder whether I could program my own commands.

A bit of research and fiddling around later, we've launched a Google Assistant app to make it easy to get information from Access Salt Lake. Right now, it supports the following commands (each can be invoked using several phrases in addition to those listed here):

  • "Check the event calendar"  lists any public events coming up in the next month or so.
  • "Check the blog"  reads the headlines of the 5 most recent posts on the blog.
  • "Read blog entry number 3"  reads the third most recent post from the blog. (Substitute any number up to 15. "Check the blog" will give you the number as it reads each headline.)
  • "Read the blog entry titled 'promote my business'"  looks for a blog entry amongst the most recent 15 with the requested word or phrase in the title, and reads it if one is found.
  • "Help"  lists the other available commands.

You can invoke these commands by saying "Okay Google, talk to Access Salt Lake," (or -- my preference -- "Hey Google...") and then saying the command after it asks what it can do for you. Or you can say it all at once like this: "Hey Google, ask Access Salt Lake what's on the calendar."

We're exploring what else we can have the app do for you -- for example, logging you into the website using your voice to access members-only features. You can find out any new commands we add any time by saying, "Hey Google, talk to Access Salt Lake about what they can do for me."