This week, Google announced a partnership with Tobii Dynavox, which brought the Google Assistant to the Snap Core First software. The primary goal of the integration is to allow users with disabilities, specifically those cerebral palsy, with limited movement and speech, to perform Google Assistant actions using their eyes.
Snap Core First is available on Windows 10 and the iPad as a free download. There is a paid version, and that’s what allows the app to synthesize speech, which is usually the primary purpose of the app since it’s geared at users who aren’t capable of speaking. But the Google Assistant integration doesn’t require the paid version, and it can be used with a touch screen or a mouse. That means that anyone can now control the Assistant from a Windows 10 PC, even without having to use their voice.
If you’ve been waiting for a way to control your smart home devices from your computer, using Snap Core First is a very viable option, and if you have an old or cheap tablet lying around, you can even use it specifically for this. In this guide, we’ll show you how to set up Snap Core First to control Google Assistant.
Bear in mind, we’re assuming you already use the Google Assistant on your phone and have it set up with your home devices. You can follow Google’s guide to set up a Nest or Google speaker in your home, or the manufacturer’s guide for setting up smart home appliances from different brands. This guide focuses on the integration with Snap Core First.
1 – Install and set up Snap Core First
The first thing you’ll need to do is obviously install the Snap Core First software. You can download it from the Microsoft Store for Windows 10, which is what we’re focusing on, but there is also a version for the iPad on the App Store.
Update: Tobii Dynavox has announced that, starting October 23, Snap Core First will be moving out of the Microsoft Store. The company has shared a guide on how to upgrade your current install to the new version so you can continue to receive updates.
Snap Core First is developed by Tobii Dynavox, and you’ll need to create a myTobiiDynavox account to get started. Thankfully, creating an account is very easy, you just need an email address and a password. Then, create a username for the app.
You’ll then be asked to choose a grid size. This determines how many buttons you can see on a single page, and you can change it in the app settings later if you don’t like your initial choice. We’re going to go with the largest size available, 8x10.
After a couple of clicks, you’ll be taken to the app’s home screen, and it will show you a tutorial of the basic actions you can perform in the app. We’ll guide through the necessary steps for the Google Assistant specifically, but paying attention to the tutorial will definitely help.
2 – Setting up Google Assistant commands
As we’ve mentioned, Snap Core First is, first and foremost, an app for those that are unable to speak, so you’ll notice that most of the UI elements have the goal of creating sentences that the computer can then speak aloud for the user.
To find the Google Assistant menu, you’ll need to open the Dashboard, either from the toolbar on the left side of the screen or the icon at the top left of the window. There, you’ll find a link to the Google Assistant controls, but there are actually options for both Alexa and Siri under “Other Smart Assistants” if you prefer that.
Once you’ve selected the Google Assistant, you’ll see this window, with links to multiple pages, each containing links to specific types of actions. Each page has an icon that represents the type of device it requires or is compatible with, with a guide letting you know what each icon means. Music and calling require a Google Nest device, for instance, since the Google Assistant can’t make calls on Windows 10.
You’ll also notice a row of options towards the bottom, which lets you send text from the message window at the top to the Google Assistant. If there’s something you don’t have a button for, you can always control the Assistant that way.
At this point, you’ll need to connect your Google account to the app. To do this, click the edit/settings icon in the top right corner, then select the User tab from the menu options at the bottom of the screen. Scroll down and you’ll see the Google Account option at the end of the list. You’ll be taken to your browser to login, and you’ll need to grant Snap Core First permission to use Google Assistant.
Once you’ve connected, you can start exploring the available options. The only smart home devices I have are light bulbs, so we’ll go to the Home Controls page.
The app offers a handful of default controls, some of which aren’t really relevant to me. You can click the edit/settings button to go into edit mode, click a button you want to delete, and use the side menu options on the right to delete it. You can also just change the button label, message text, icon, and more. You can resize and move buttons around in edit mode as well.
The next step is creating buttons with actions you actually want. Click any of the buttons on the grid to go into edit mode. Let’s say I want a button that changes my bedroom light to orange. I can set any name that’s convenient, but the message text is what’s more important. This is the command that will be sent to the Google Assistant, so you’ll need to write a sentence that it can recognize.
Then you need to make it so that clicking the button actually sends the message text to Google Assistant. In the Actions sections at the bottom, you’ll need to click “Add Action” button and scroll down to find the “Send Google Assistant command” option. Then, select “Send button message text to Google Assistant”, so the button will behave the way I described above.
If you don’t have the paid version of the app or you don’t want to hear the message itself read out loud, you can remove that from the list of actions, since it’s added by default. Then, click “Done” in the top right corner, and the button will be functional. Repeat this process for whatever actions you’d like to have at hand until you’ve set up the page. You can also create buttons with no actions attached if you’d like them to just serve as guides. Here’s a potential layout you might end up with.
3 – Make Google Assistant more accessible
Now, you may have set up all the pages you want, but the app will always start at the same default page, so you’ll probably want to make the Google Assistant easier to get to. You can change the home page by clicking the edit/settings icon and choosing the “Page Set” tab in the menu at the bottom. You can set the Google Assistant page as the home page, so you can easily navigate to the different Google Assistant commands. With this done, the home button near the top left corner will also take you to the page you chose.
Another thing you may want to do is create links on the toolbar on the right. While in edit mode, you can edit the buttons on the toolbar on the left side of the screen just as you’d edit the buttons in a page. You can remove the existing links and create a new one. To do this, when adding an action to the button, scroll down to find the “Link” option, and then choose whether you want to link to an existing page or create a new one. You can create new pages if you’d like to have more control about how options are organized, but you can also edit existing ones at will. There are enough options here to let you set up things in any way you prefer.
And that’s pretty much all you need to know in order to start using the Google Assistant in Windows 10, even without having to speak. The setup process is a bit convoluted, but if you just don’t want to reach out to grab your phone, or if you have a tablet lying around that could be used exclusively for home control, this can be pretty useful. Of course, the main target of the Snap Core First app are users with special accessibility needs, and they are the ones most likely to find it more useful.
Do you want to have Google Assistant commands available on Windows 10? Do you find this integration useful? Let us know in the comments!