Google Home – and Google Assistant – have a TON of features. In this guide, we’ll show you our #1 favorite Google Home features and abilities. Oh, and in case you missed it: Google Home has now been replaced by Google’s Nest Audio – a brand new smart speaker that boosts 50% more bass and is 75% louder than Google Home!
21 Cool Things You Can Do With Google Home
1) Learn About Google I/O
Google I/O is a developer’s conferences where devs can go to attend courses and seminars on all the latest software offerings that the company unveils. This year’s Google I/O takes place from May 17-19. In honor of the event, Google has released an action for the conference.
The new I/O action allows you to ask Home to tell you about any session at the conference from Google Play to VR to AI.
Before the conference starts, Google Home isn’t giving away much about what to expect. Ask it what I/O will be like this year and it replies: “Oh, the keynote is going to be awesome this year. Sundar Pichai will start at 10 a.m. on the first day.”
2) Go Back In Time
For news headlines, anyway. The Time Machine action allows you to ask Home to tell you what the news was for any specific day going back to 1851. The Time Machine action scans the New York Times’ massive database of headlines and reads them out to you as well as summarizing the news related to the headline.
3) “Tell Me Something” Good Feature
Google has added a new update to Assistant that is designed to help make your day better.
It’s called “tell me something good”, and as the name suggests it is designed to bring “good news” direct to your Google Home/Assistant-powered device.
Here’s what Google said about it on its official blog:
“‘Tell me something good’ is a new experimental feature for Assistant users in the U.S. that delivers your daily dose of good news. Just say “Hey Google, tell me something good” to receive a brief news summary about people who are solving problems for our communities and our world.”
4) Google Assistant Is Better Than Amazon’s Alexa. Period.
Alexa might be able to do more than Google Home, with respect to tasks, but Google’s Assistant, thanks to Google’s inroads with search, is LEAGUES ahead of Alexa when it comes to being to answer your questions.
“Google Assistant is six times more likely to answer a user’s question than Amazon Alexa is,” according to a study by 360i. “Each AI-infused assistant was asked 3,000 questions, of which Google Assistant answered 72%, and Alexa answered only 13%.”
The ability to understand questions and provide a good answer will be the key driving force behind these types of devices in the months and years to come. Google understands this which is likely why it took its time getting Google Home on the market.
Being able to leverage Google Search is key, though. Everybody uses it, most people have a Google Account, and tapping into this is where Google Home will make most friends, as search queries – although, in this case spoken ones – are what these products are all about.
Amazon’s offering is better at generating revenue, as it plugged directly into Amazon. But this is just one facet of the overall experience. Make no mistake: devices like these – and the software that powers them – will one day overtake phones.
Alexa and Google Assistant will come in smaller, more portable devices and eventually they will travel everywhere with you. Think the film Her, and you’re on the right track.
In addition to this, “Google has made investments in AI companies that will drive the development of Google Assistant,” notes Business Insider.
“The most visible and highest-impact effort Google has made in this space is its 2014 acquisition of DeepMind, a UK-based AI company that aims to create truly intelligent software. DeepMind announced in October 2016 that its AI was capable of teaching itself using information it had access to.”
5) DEEZER is Coming To Google Home
Soon you will be able to add DEEZER to your Google Home’s musical output, joining the likes of Spotify and Google Music.
DEEZER is a little different to Spotify and Google Music, in that, it can create dedicated playlists based around your listening habits – these are called Flows.
So to interact with DEEZER on Google Home, simply say, “Okay, Google, Play My Flow,” and Google Home will dynamically generate a playlist inside DEEZER.
Where things get REALLY clever, though, is that Google Home can tell who is talking to it and it will then factor this into generating the playlist in DEEZER.
Which means you won’t get Justin Bieber when you’re in the mood for Slayer or Napalm Death.
And that is always a good thing.
6) Change The Temperature In Your House
Google Home allows you to control the temp in your house or flat is you have a Nest thermostat. Given Google owns Nest, this was a natural fit. It also really shows the power of home-based AI assistants. It’s so cool being able to say “OK Google set temperature to 17 degrees” and actually having that done automatically. It’s like living in the future.
7) Get Traffic Conditions
The worst thing is when you leave your home for work in the morning and realize the roads are packed for some reason or the other. If only you had known your normal route was going to be a slow lane today you could have taken another way. Well now you can just ask Google Home what the traffic conditions are like to your work (or any other location you’ve told Home is important to you). You can then take an alternative route if Home says your normal one is packed.
8) Say “Hey”
The default voice command for Google Home—and all of Google’s Assistant software—is “OK, Google”. However, this phrase is a bit cumbersome and robotic. It’s not a way humans usually address others with their voice. Well no with Google Home (and only Home, not Assistant on other devices) you can also say “Hey, Google” to interact with Home that way. It’s a bit more natural sounding.
Google Home is also six times more likely to answer your questions as well, according to 360i.
“Google Home is six times more likely to answer your question than Amazon Alexa. It’s relatively surprising, considering that RBC Capital Markets projects Alexa will drive $10 billion of revenue to Amazon by 2020—not to mention the artificial intelligence-based system currently owns 70 percent of the voice market,” reports Ad Week.
It added: “360i’s proprietary software asked both devices 3,000 questions to come to the figure. While Amazon Alexa has shown considerable strength in retail search during the agency’s research, Google won the day thanks to its unmatched search abilitie”.
9) Interact With It By Touch
while the main input method for Google Home is voice control, Google has actually built in some touch controls to the device—because sometimes it’s just faster or less awkward to do things physically. Tap the top of Google Home once to wake your Google Home up or to pause or unpause a broadcast. You can also change the volume via touch by sliding your finger to the side; a circle will light up indicating the volume.
10) Order An Uber
Once you’ve linked your Uber account with Home (by going to the Home app on your smartphone and navigating to Settings > More Settings > Services) simply say “OK Google, get me an Uber” and one will be sent to your house.
11) Turn Google Home Into Your Sous Chef
Like cooking? Me too. And one of Google Home’s coolest new features is its ability to read you recipes and recipe instructions as you cook.
Google Home can now source over five MILLION recipes via Bon Appetit, The New York Times, Food Network, and others that you can use to make your gourmet meals even more, umm… gourmet.
All you have to do once you’ve found a recipe you like is, via Google Search or Assistant on your phone, select “Send to Google Home” and it’ll be ready on Google Home when you are.
Once you’re ready to start cooking, simply say “Start cooking” or “Start recipe” and Google Home will issue step by step instructions on what you need to do and when, meaning no more greasy prints and spillages on your phone or tablet.
Google Home will also be able to play music, help with weight conversions and more while doing this.
Check out the video of this feature in action below:
12) Add Multiple Users
Google Home now supports multiple users, meaning you and your family can use the device.
All you have to do, once another account is attached, is get that person to say “Ok Google” and “Hey Google” a couple of times and Home will be able to tell who’s talking to it.
“From that point on,” says Google, “any time you say “Ok Google” or “Hey Google” to your Google Home, the neural network will compare the sound of your voice to its previous analysis so it can understand if it’s you speaking or not. This comparison takes place only on your device, in a matter of milliseconds.”
13) Turn Off the Lights In Your Flat
This only works if you have Home-compatible smart lights, but increasingly there are tons of them available from different companies. So if, for example, you have Philips Hue lights in your flat you can say “OK Google, turn off my lights” and Home will shut off your lights. You can turn them on too, of course. Or you can tell Home to change the lighting color by saying “OK Google, turn the kitchen green.”
14) Play 20 Questions
The classic trivia game is built into Google Home. Say “OK Google, let me talk to Akinator,” and the game will start. But with this game, you think of the answer and let Akinator guess what you are thinking of. Akinator will narrow down to the right answer by asking you questions. It’s pretty cool.
15) Check If A Store Is Still Open
Say “OK Google, check when the nearest grocery store is closing” and Home will tell you when the closest one to your house is open until. This of course works for all kinds of businesses, from movie theaters to pharmacies.
16) Find Your Missing Phone
This is great for when you misplace your smartphone around your house. By using the app IFTTT you can create a recipe with Home that allows you to say “OK Google, find my phone.” Once this recipe is set up an alert will go off on your phone that lets you discover its whereabouts.
17) Create A Shopping List
This is a great feature for those who like to use Home in the kitchen. If you’re going through the fridge or your pantries and see you’re out of or running low on an item simply say “OK Google, add coffee to my shopping list” and Home will add it. You can then access your shopping list via your normal Google apps on your smartphone when you are out.
18) Control Netflix
Home can communicate seamlessly with Chromecast devices. Once you’ve linked your Chromecast devices to Home and any video or audio apps to Home (by going to the Home app on your smartphone and navigating to Settings > More Settings > Videos and Photos) you can simply say “OK Google, play ‘Daredevil’ season one” and Home will bring up the Netflix show on your TV.
19) See Your Pictures On Your TV
As with video accounts like Netflix, you can also give Home access to your photo accounts, like your Google Photos account. Once you link the accounts together you can simply say something like “OK Google, show me pictures from my Paris trip in 2014” and Home will bring up the photos on your Chromecast-enabled TV.
20) Send WhatsApp Messages
Another good account to link with Home is your WhatsApp account. Once you’ve done this you can simply say “OK Google, send a WhatsApp message to Mary” and then dictate the message. It will automatically be sent.
Yes, Google Home can even tell you jokes. Simply say “OK Google, tell me a joke” and Assistant will read off some zingers based on the wit of Pixar and The Onion.
Google Home Explained – What It Does
The smart speaker wars are heating up. First, it was Amazon’s Echo with its Alexa personal assistant and now it’s Google’s Home with Google Assistant. The latter only became available in the U.K. during 2017 and it’s already built up a big following thanks in part to the power of Google’s AI software. Since the device is always listening, you interact with it by simply saying “OK, Google” and then speak your command and query. This is called an Action.
What Is An Action?
An action can be thought of as an app. On Amazon’s Echo products and Microsoft’s Cortana-powered smart speakers, actions are referred to as “skills”. But no matter what you call it—app, action, or skill—its essentially an additional program that adds functionality to your Home. Google describes its actions as software that helps “fulfill user requests by letting you have a two-way dialog with users. When users request an action, the Google Assistant processes this request determines the best action to invoke, and invokes your Conversation Action if relevant. From there, your action manages the rest, including how users are greeted, how to fulfill the user’s request, and how the conversation ends.”
Google’s Home devices are now rapidly gaining traction in the market. According to The Big G, the company has now sold in excess of 10 million units with Google Assistant being available inside more than 400 million additional devices, including phones, tablets, TVs and speakers. Make no mistake: this segment of the tech market, while small, is insanely competitive. Amazon is the de facto leader at present, but rumours suggest Apple is prepping a Siri-powered unit for release later on this year, and this makes Google Home a very important release for Google.
You can pick up ALL of Google’s Home smart speakers (and there’s now quite a few) via Walmart.
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Apple expert and novelist, Michael Grothaus has been covering tech on KnowYourMobile for the best part of 10 years. Prior to this, he worked at Apple. And before that, he was a film journalist. Michael is a published author; his book Epiphany Jones was voted as one of the best novels about Hollywood by Entertainment Weekly. Michael is also a writer at other publications including VICE and Fast Company.