Google Home and Assistant – the definitive guide

New to Google Home or Google Assistant, or simply looking for tips to make your Google Assistant experience the best possible? Look no further, this guide takes you through the differences between Home, Assistant, and what Google’s ecosystem is capable of.

Google Home vs Assistant – what’s the difference?

Google Home isn’t quite as well known as the Amazon Echo family, but the tides are starting to shift in Google’s favor. In a nutshell, Google Home is a smart speaker that runs its own virtual assistant, known aptly as Google Assistant. In other words, Google Home is the physical hardware, and Google Assistant is the software that allows you to use your voice to play music, check the weather, shop online, control your smart home, and so much more.

Related: Amazon Echo vs Google Home vs Apple HomePod

How to get Google Assistant

Google Home comes with Google Assistant built-in, but there are other ways to run Google’s virtual assistant without needing a Google Home.

First, it’s baked into the majority of Android devices on the market, unless your phone is extremely aged or you are in a market like China were Google services aren’t typically included. There is also an official Google Assistant app for iPhone that’s very easy to install. Unfortunately, Assistant doesn’t officially run on PC. There are ways to get it on there, but they involve some pretty steep tech skills that probably aren’t something most users will want to mess with.

Your last route outside of your smartphone, tablet, or the Google Home family is to go with a smart speaker from a third party brand that has Google Assistant baked in, with options from JBL, Sony, and others.

How to use Google Home: setup, commands, and skills

So now you know what Google Assistant is, let’s talk about how to use it. First things, first – you’ll want to check out our guide on how to set up your Google or third party Assistant device.

After you’ve set up your Assistant-powered device, it’s time to learn more about what Google’s assistant is capable of.

Google Home commands

To really take advantage of Google Assistant to the fullest, you need to know all the commands available to you. This includes commands for checking the weather, setting timers, playing music, finding restaurants, shopping, and the list goes on.

Here are some of the most common commands:

  • “Hey, Google, increase volume.”
  • “Hey, Google, turn it down.”
  • “Hey, Google, pause.”
  • “Hey, Google, resume.”
  • “Hey, Google, set an alarm for 25 minutes.”
  • “Hey, Google, add celery to my shopping list.”
  • “Hey, Google, sing me a song.”
  • “Hey, Google, what’s the weather like today?”
  • “Hey, Google, do I need an umbrella today?”
  • “Hey, Google, what’s Samsung trading at?”
  • “Hey, Google, what’s the traffic like on the way to work?”

That’s just a small sampling of what commands are out there. For the full list, head our to our Google Home commands guide.

Google Home actions

Google Actions are basically third-party apps that add new functionality to your Google Assistant powered devices. Some of them are for increasing productivity, others are simple games, skills for controlling your TV and smart home devices, and more.

Some of our favorites include the following:

That’s just a short list of what’s out there. You can find a complete list over at Google, and be sure to check out our list of the best Google Home actions. More into games? Check out our best Google Home games list.

Upgrade your Assistant experience with compatible accessories

As you can see, Google Assistant has a ton of functionality. It also makes for the perfect centerpiece for your smart home by adding handy Assistant-compatible devices including fridgesthermostats, furniture, lighting, and more. Of course you may still need a hub to make all this magic work, so we recommend checking out our best smart hub guide.

For a complete list of products that work with Google Assistant and the Google Home family, head here. 

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