The Google Home is in millions of households.
Earlier this year, Google revealed that it had sold more than one Home smart speaker device every second since last October. According to our own calculations, that means Google sold at least 6.8 million Home devices during the last holiday season – and they seem to have been selling at a steady clip since.
Google sells four Home devices right now: the $US50 Google Home Mini, the $US130 Google Home, the $US400 Google Home Max, and the new $US150 Google Home Hub, all of which have Google’s artificially-intelligent Assistant built in.
So now that the Google Home has spread, it helps to know what you can actually do with them. Some features are obvious – like asking for the weather – but others aren’t so obvious.
Here are 19 of the coolest things you can do with your Google Home.
1. Play white noise while you fall asleep.
I prefer rain sounds to standard white noise, so I usually say “Hey Google, play the sound of rain.” The device obliges with a steady downpour.
The sound usually lasts until I fall asleep, but if you want to be sure it turns off at a certain point, you can also set a sleep timer.
2. Broadcast something to every Google Home device in your house at once.
If you have more than one Google Home device in your home,you can broadcast to every single one simultaneously, sort of like an intercom.
If you say, “OK Google, broadcast that it’s dinner time,” each device will ring a dinner bell. You can also say, “OK Google, broadcast that it’s time for school.”
The broadcast feature even works when you’re not in the house. Saying, “OK Google, broadcast I’m on my way home” will trigger the devices inside your house.
3. Control your smart home.
At this point, Google Assistant can control more than 1,500 smart-home products from more than 100 brands like LG, Whirlpool, GE, and Nest. You can ask your Google Home to dim the lights, change the temperature, turn on a kettle or microwave, or even start your Roomba.
And now with Google Home Hub, you can set up a hub for all your smart home products and control them on the screen.
You can check out a full list of compatible products here.
4. Remind yourself to work out.
If you’re someone who needs a nudge to get out and exercise, your Google Home can help with that. You can ask Google to remind you however often you like at a specific time each day.
5. Make hands-free calls.
Google Home can handle hands-free calling to anyone in your Google Contacts. All you have to do is say, “Hey Google, call…” and it will dial on its own.
Google Home can also recognise voices, so if you share the device with several people, it will know who’s asking it to place the call. If you ask it to “call mum,” for example, it will know whose mum to call.
6. Find your lost phone.
If you lose your phone around the house, Google Home can find it for you. By saying, “Hey Google, find my phone,” it can ring your phone. This feature works for both Android phones and iPhones.
7. Switch it to night mode.
The Google Home’s night mode feature will dim the device’s light and lower its volume so you don’t wake up the rest of your household. You can either manually turn this feature on, or schedule it to trigger at the same time every day.
The Google Home Hub does this on its own – it will sense when a room has darkened and adjust the screen accordingly.
8. Turn the TV on and off.
If your TV supports the HDMI CEC standard (many recent models do), and you have one of Google’s own Chromecasts plugged in, you can use your Google Home to turn the TV on and off.
9. Ask it to tell you a story.
Google equipped Google Home devices with all sorts of features for families. Here are a few of the things you can ask it:
- “Hey Google, tell me a story.”
- “Hey Google, let’s play a game.”
- “OK Google, play musical chairs.”
- “OK Google, beatbox for me.”
- “Hey Google, let’s play space trivia.”
10. Speak in different languages.
Google Home is capable of speaking in English, Japanese, French, Italian, and German.
Google Assistant on phones and tablets has even more languages under its belt, including Spanish and Portuguese. It recently added Dutch, Indonesian, and Portuguese, too.
The full list of languages for Google Home is here.
11. Switch back and forth between different languages.
Thanks to a recent update, you can now speak to your Google Home interchangeably. The device will be able to recognise which language you’re speaking and respond in that language.
For now, that only applies to a limited set of languages – English, German, French, Spanish, Italian, and Japanese. Google says it will be adding more languages as time goes on.
12. Find plumbers, handymen, or local businesses to help around the house.
Saying, “OK Google, find me a plumber” will pull up relevant results in your area. Google says all of its local-business recommendations have been screened by both Google and companies like HomeAdvisor and Porch.
13. Set up daily routines that are triggered when you say phrases like “Hey Google, good morning.”
You can create a routine for the Google Home that can be triggered with a simple phrase that you set in the app.
When you wake up in the morning, for instance, saying “Hey Google, good morning,” could make the device read your schedule for the day, tell you the news, let you know what your commute will be like, and tell you the weather.
Similarly, saying “Hey Google, good night,” could turn off your lights and turn the thermostat down. It could also tell you if you have an event the next morning by reading your calendar. It’s up to you!
14. Ask it to tell you jokes.
Just say, “Hey Google, tell me a joke” and the Google Home will deliver.
15. Ask it to remember things for you.
If you have a locker or a bike lock, your Google Home can remember it for you if you say, “Hey Google, remember my locker combo is…”
16. Get help in the kitchen.
Your Google Home can help you with baking and cooking. It can look up recipes and substitutions, and answer questions like, “How many tablespoons are in a cup?”
17. Wake up in the morning with your favourite music.
Your Google Home can work as a regular alarm clock, but it can also wake you up with music you like – just say, “Hey Google, set an alarm for 8 a.m. that plays….”
18. Set reminders to watch your favourite shows.
If you’re worried you’ll forget to watch that hot new show you like, you can have your Google Home remind you. Say, “Hey Google, remind me to watch ‘Grown-ish’ every Wednesday at 8 p.m.”
19. Ask it to tell you some good news.
If you’re tired of only grim news stories, there’s an option to hear some positive news instead.
Saying “Hey Google, tell me something good” will give you a short news summary featuring good news about “people who are solving problems for our communities and our world.”
The feature is an experimental one, which means it may not be a permanent fixture. For now, it’s only available for US users.
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