Google Home is powerful software, maybe even more powerful than you think. But while it’s handy to help out with a variety of commands, some of the best features can’t be found without a bit of research. To help owners get the most out of their devices, we’ve put together a guide full of tips and tricks, plus some Easter eggs that might surprise you.
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Interestingly, the artificial intelligence (AI) personality that powers Home is nameless, which seems to undermine the organic relationship between user and device that Google works so carefully to curate. Apple has Siri and Amazon has Alexa, but the engineers behind Home and other Android devices stuck to the generic “Google Assistant.”
You can change your device’s name in the Google Home app under Device > Settings > Name, but the name you choose won’t become the new wake word. Despite users’ voice feedback, Google still only allows users to wake the device by saying “OK, Google”, “Hey, Google” or, oddly enough, “OK, Boo Boo”.
However, there is a way for your assistant to call you by a different name when it answers you. Just say “OK, Google, change my name”. You might not be able to address your Google Home as “Princess Fluffycakes”, but you can have it call you by your favorite nickname; we recommend “Your Highness”.
Google also makes it easy to set up smart devices. When you set up a new smart device in the manufacturer’s app, you’ll receive a push notification that the device is compatible with Google Home. The setup process becomes more seamless than ever, and you’ll be able to connect your smart devices to Google Assistant in seconds.
There will come a day when devices like those powered by Google Home will be delivered by drone, automatically popping out of their own boxes and pulling out a mechanical leg to introduce themselves before plugging in and customizing their functions to your home. In the meantime, it’s vital for experienced Home users to learn more about IFTTT.
IFTTT is what is called an “applet creation service”. The acronym represents the basic idea of its creator: “If this, then that”. Basically, it’s a simple way to get Google Home to automatically do cool things for you. After downloading the app, you can create command modules that can integrate with Google Assistant apps, such as Tasker and Autovoice, to automate certain functions. For example, you can wake up in the morning, say “Hey, Google,” and quickly change the color of your Hue lights, turn on NPR, and start a coffee maker on your behalf. You can also configure it to respond to notifications, which will prompt to alert you when that special someone emails you. It can also track your hours in Google Calendar and save texts to a spreadsheet so you don’t lose valuable work or personal interaction.
Don’t want to use IFTTT? Simply use the Routines feature in the Google Home app to perform multiple actions with a single command.
Or stick to the basics
If you’re just not the applet type, it’s still important to use the basic Google Home apps to make your life easier. It’s worth browsing through a list of basic commands available when your device arrives, meaning you need to ask Google Assistant questions, set alarms, connect your calendar, and perform a host of other commands. basis to better familiarize yourself with your new virtual companion.
You can even create digital sticky notes for yourself or family members on your smart display to remind your spouse to pick up the eggs later or remind your roommate to pay the electricity bill, for example. example.
You can also set up multiple users on your Google Assistant-powered device, like the Google Home Mini or Nest Mini 2nd Gen. The Google Assistant can speak and understand multiple languages if you want. make your Google Home multilingual. You can use interpreter mode to translate conversations in real time. You can also use the Voice Match feature in the app and program your Home device to recognize your voice and give you personalized responses. For example, you can request information about your trip, and Google Assistant will recognize your voice and give you information about your trip, not your partner’s.
Also, be sure to install the Google Home app on your smartphone, as it can act as a central hub for all your devices when you’re away from your smart display or smart speaker. And if you’re not a fan of Google Assistant’s default voice, be sure to check out the More settings option in the Settings menu, as you’ll find an Assistant voice submenu that lets you customize its dialect.
Shopping till you drop
“OK, Google, buy me some flour.” One of the main complaints from home users when the device was launched was that, unlike its competitor Alexa, it did not allow users to shop hands-free. That changed when Google announced that Home would integrate with Google Express, the company’s shopping platform. The service allows users to order from dozens of stores, including Target, Best Buy and Costco Wholesale. Users can order products verbally, and your Home device will give you a total including tax and shipping before confirming the order.
Google Assistant also has some cool features that you can use while in the car. Fancy a cup of coffee before work? Say “Hey Google, how long does it take to get to the nearest Starbucks?” and Google Maps will show you the route. You can also pre-order your favorite latte at Starbucks while you’re in the car without ever taking your hands off the wheel. You may even be able to reserve a parking spot with SpotHero.
Read and reply to messages
It’s easy to make a call with Google Home. Just say, “OK, Google, call (phone number)” or “OK, Google, call (company name)”. One of the new features of Google Assistant is its ability to manage your SMS messages when you text. Tell Google Assistant to “Show me my messages” and you’ll see all unread texts. The Google Assistant will actually read your unread messages to you if you ask it, “Do I have any messages?” The Home device can also read SMS messages from Facebook Messenger and Hangouts if you have a compatible device.
Customize your morning report
One of the features that Google Home owners have been quick to adopt is the universal “Tell me about my day” command, which triggers an audio report. What some basic users didn’t realize is that the “Tell me about my day” command can be customized to offer different information. From the menu, you can select different categories, including weather, traffic conditions, Google Calendar reminders, and even your flight status. It is also possible not to cut the report at the end, but instead have the default greeting on a custom newsfeed.
If you’re interested in a home device, chances are you already use several other Google products. Home devices were designed to work within Google’s ecosystem, and as such the products are most useful for people who frequently use services like Google Calendar and Google Keep. With these services, Home really can be your own personal assistant. You can ask it to check your schedule, set reminders, or add items to your shopping lists with a simple voice command. Google Home also works with several smart home products, including Google Cast, Philips Hue lights, Smart Things, and more. Other products are regularly added to the ecosystem, and the list continues to grow.
Google and Nest products also work incredibly well together. Do you have a Nest doorbell? Google Home alerts you when someone rings the doorbell and lets you see who’s at the door from your phone, TV or smart display. If you have a Chromecast, smart display, or smart TV with Google Assistant built in, you can also use your voice to fast forward and adjust the volume of your streaming shows.
Google Home works well with most common streaming services. For music, you can connect your speaker to Pandora, Google Music, Deezer, Spotify and YouTube. If you use any of these services, it’s a good idea to link your accounts. You can also choose your favorite music service. So when you tell Google to “play music” it will automatically start playing from your favorite music provider. Your Google Home device will also act as a Chromecast receiver, so any app that runs on Chromecast can also be controlled by talking to Google Assistant.
While some of Google’s connected services deal with products inside your home, you can also connect this speaker to your Uber account and other third-party services. For example, Kayak, Domino’s, Food Network, and WebMD have services you can use. Unlike Alexa, you don’t need to turn them on, but you may need to create or link an account. To access it, try saying “OK, Google, ask Food Network…”
Take advantage of privacy features
One of the reasons gadgets like Home are such useful devices is because they’re always listening, as evidenced by all those stories of AI devices ordering dollhouses without permission or Super Bowl advertising. that has driven home devices around the world crazy. But for most people, being able to ask Google Home a question or issue a hands-free command is its most useful feature.
However, this feature can be a bit confusing for some people. Do you really want Google, or any other company, to listen to everything you say? It’s also possible for Home to interfere in your conversations, even if you haven’t directly addressed it. Google’s four-syllable wake phrase, “OK, Google,” will probably keep that from happening too often, but we’ve had it at odd times, especially when we’ve said something that sounds like Google’s phrase. awakening. Fortunately, all you have to do is press the mute button on the back of the device to deactivate the “always listening” function.
You can also opt out of personalized ads, unsubscribe from marketing emails, and turn off your Nest Hub Max’s camera when you’re not using it. Google Assistant remembers everything. So, if you want to delete a tricky query from your history, you can do so within the app by going to My Activity in the Settings tab. Here you can either read or delete your search history. In the app, tap the Menu button > More services and scroll down to My activity . You can delete them one by one or in larger chunks by date. For the latter, tap the three vertical dots in the Search Assistant bar. ChooseDelete activity by and set the date range.
Google is also adding new privacy features, including the ability to tell Assistant “that wasn’t for you” if you don’t want it to listen to a specific conversation.
Google Assistant can be as fun as Alexa. A quick search will give you a bunch of hilarious questions to ask, such as “What’s that smell?” “Hey Google, are you Skynet?” and “OK Google, Hodor”. If it’s your birthday, Google will help you celebrate it. Just say, “OK, Google, sing Happy Birthday.” You can even be bold enough to ask Google, “What are your Easter eggs?”
Even the quietest days are fun with a Google Home device for entertainment. It can provide poetry, anecdotes and much more. To get ideas, just ask Google what “things you can do?”
If you want to try something new for your next meal, Google can help you prepare it. Ask for a specific recipe and Google will provide step-by-step instructions and guide you through cooking a delicious dinner. You can even use your voice to set useful timers. If you forget how many tablespoons are in a cup or some other conversion, Google Home will quickly give you the answer. You can even broadcast a message to other Google Home devices in your family to let them know when everything is ready.
If you’re using Google’s Wear OS for fitness tracking, just say “OK, Google, start my walk,” and Google will track your heart rate and the number of steps you take. And that’s not all. Google Assistant offers fantasy football help with CBS Sports, meditation help with Headspace, and even gives you the ability to exchange money with your friends with Google Play. And when all the negativity going around the world starts to weigh on you, you can say, “Hey Google, tell me something nice.”