Virtual assistants, smart assistants, creepy robot people — whatever you want to call them — are getting better every day. Last year at Google I/O 2018 we saw some really impressive additions to Google Assistant that have me personally very excited about what’s to come and what is possible using only your voice.
Smart speakers bring this functionality into your home, accessible at any time, and the Google Home is one of the more notable devices on the market. Though what you can do with Google Home has been discussed at length already, these are a few Google Home hacks that are fun, useful and most of all, impressive to people not as techy as you.
Control your smart devices
Once you’re comfortable navigating your Google Home – performing searches, setting timers, checking the weather, and more – you can move into the speaker’s technical offerings. One of the biggest aspects of the Google Home is its ability to control smart home devices. You can add first-party devices like the Google Chromecast in the Google Home app and control it directly with your voice. When the Chromecast is connected to your TV, you can ask Google to play a show from a specific provider — “Hey, Google. Play Stranger Things on Netflix.” or “Hey, Google. Show me funny cat videos on YouTube.”
In order to make this happen, here’s how to control your Chromecast with Google Home.
- Make sure your phone, Chromecast, and Google Home are all on the same Wi-Fi network.
- Open the Google Home app and select “More Settings” from the left-hand menu.
- Find, and select “TV’s and Speakers” under Services.
- If you don’t see your Chromecast in this section, use the “+” button to search for it.
- Once your device is found, tap the check mark next to its name and select “Add.”
- Use the voice commands mentioned above to control your Chromecast with Google Home.
Tons of third-party smart home devices integrate with the Google Home as well. Some of the cooler pieces of tech include smart vacuum cleaners such as the Neato Botvac Connected. With your voice alone, you can have it start cleaning as you leave for work. There are also Philips Hue bulbs which allow you to turn your lights on and off, dim them, and change their color using your voice. The Behmor Connected Coffee Brewer works with Google Home to start your brewing when you wake up in the morning. The Logitech Harmony remote allows you to control your actual TV with your voice. You can say “Hey, Google. Turn the TV on,” or “Hey, Google. Watch NBC.”
We think you'll also like this oneUse Voice Match to get custom results for services
Soon after release, one of the things that set the Google Home apart was its support for multiple voices tied to multiple accounts. It can provide information specific to the user like calendar details, travel times to work, and more. It’s great for a household where a couple shares the device. Other smart speakers have adopted this ability now as well, but Google Home is expanding on this to provide custom results for users for other services.
You can now assign separate Netflix accounts to multiple Google Accounts. Once you’ve done this, you can request custom-tailored results to play on your Google Chromecast. You’ll be able to pick up where you left on a particular Netflix binge, and not jump into the middle of someone else’s.
Here’s how to set up voice match on Google Home.
- Make sure your Google Home is running the latest software.
- Make sure your phone is connected to the same Wi-Fi network as your Google Home.
- Open the menu on the left-hand of the app and make sure you are logged into the account you want to set up a voice match for.
- Enter the “Devices” menu from the top-right of the screen and select the device you wish to set up Voice Match for.
- After selecting your device, tap the blue banner labeled “Multi user is now available, Link your account” or “Get personal results with Voice Match.”
If you have trained the Assistant to recognize your voice in the past, you won’t have to do it again here. If you have not done that before, follow the prompts to do so.
Play music throughout your house
The Google Home app allows you to create device groups to control all related devices with a single command to do things like play music. First you need to either have multiple Google Home devices, Chromecast Audio devices, or speakers that have Chromecast Audio built-in.
If you have multiple devices, here’s how to play music throughout your house with Google Home.
- Make sure all devices are connected to the same Wi-Fi network.
- Tap the devices icon at the top of the screen and select one of your Chromecast-enabled devices.
- Select the device menu (three dots) for one of your devices and hit “Create Group.”
- When the list of available devices appears, select those that you want to include in the Group and save.
- After you have all of your devices in the group, you can then use voice commands to play music throughout your home by saying “Hey, Google. Play classic rock on [device group name].”
If you find yourself throwing parties or entertaining large groups of people in your home, this is a pretty cool trick.
Broadcast messages throughout your home
Similar to the ability to play music throughout your home, you can also broadcast messages across all your devices. You can use this feature to wake everyone in the home up, call people down for a meal, or let the kids know that it’s time to leave for school.
The convenient part about it is that you don’t have to create any fancy device groups. The message will broadcast to any device connected to the same network as the initiating device without disturb mode enabled. You can also send messages from your phone to your Google Home devices, so you don’t need to actually be present. That could lead to a lot of funny pranks.
Use Google Home to help you remember things
Some of us (like me) are pretty forgetful. As the old saying goes, if my head wasn’t attached, I would probably lose it. I can’t count the number of times I’ve had to call in a search party to help find my keys, television remote, Xbox controller, and who knows what else. Google Home can actually mitigate that.
For instance, you can say “Hey, Google. Remember that I put my keys in the living room drawer.” Then at a later time, when you’ve realized you can’t remember where you put those keys, you can summon Google and ask where you left it.
Routines are a likely underused feature by most Google Home owners. In my opinion, it is one of the assistant’s more useful features. Setting up Routines allows you to initiate a set of commands with a single phrase. You can turn on your Philips Hue bulbs, fire up the coffee machine, and start your “get out of bed” music playlist, all by simply saying “Good morning” to Google Home.
Here’s how to set up routines with Google Home.
- Make sure your phone is connected to the same Wi-Fi networks as your Google Home device.
- Open the Home app and enter the expandable menu on the left of the screen.
- Choose “More settings” from the menu options.
- Scroll down and choose “Routines.”
- Select the command prompt that you would like to adjust actions for.
- Choose and customize the actions that you would like the Google Home to complete after hearing the trigger word.
At Google I/O, Custom Routines were also announced, which lets you create your own trigger phrases, instead of just using the ones from Google. This feature was recently made available to all users. Now you can set up phrases such as “Hey, Google. It’s time for school,” which could broadcast a message to the Google Home in your kids’ rooms, turning off all of the lights in the house, turning the AC down to conserve energy throughout the day, and more.
If you’re wondering how to set up Custom Routines for Google Home, follow all of the same steps above, but after clicking into the “When I say…” menu, use the “+” icon at the bottom of the screen to enter a command.
These are just a handful of the cool things you can do with Google Home to make your daily life a little easier, or at least allow you to feel all-powerful when you make things happen with your voice. We’ll be sure to keep this list updated as new features are released. Let us know what your favorite Google Home hacks are in the comments below so we can give them a go on our own!