Google Home is at the heart of Google’s smart home ecosystem. From video intercoms and security cameras to smart thermostats and smart speakers, Google Home gives you the versatility to control everything in your home. There are many nuances to the system, but getting started is simple: just download the Google Home app to your smartphone, sync a compatible device, and you’re ready to start streamlining your daily routines.
Here’s a closer look at everything you need to know about Google Home.
What is Google Nest and how does it work with Google Home?
Google Nest is a branch of smart home devices made by Google that are specifically designed to work seamlessly with the Google Home ecosystem (Google bought smart home maker Nest a few years ago and integrated it into its overall system). Google Nest devices include smart speakers, thermostats, and lighting, as well as smoke detectors, doorbells, cameras, smart locks, and smart speaker displays.
What do you need to start using Google Home?
To use Google Home, you’ll need a Google Home-compatible device (like the Nest Hub Max), the Google Home app, and a Google account. The Google Home app will guide you through setup and you can add other information, like your location, so you can get local weather or traffic updates. For a quick introduction, check out our detailed article on how to set up Google Home.
You’ll also want to connect your Google Home app with some of your other apps like Google Photos or Spotify to increase the functionality of the device. For example, you can send photos from your phone to the screen and listen to music from your favorite streaming service.
What types of devices work with Google Home?
There are hundreds of Google Home-enabled devices, and more are on the market all the time. When home automation was first introduced, devices were limited to things like smart speakers and light bulbs. Advances in connectivity and artificial intelligence have expanded that range to include a much broader and more versatile variety of products.
Smart thermostats allow users to manually control their homes’ heating and cooling cycles, or fully automate them using geofences, so that when the house is empty, the heating dials back on. With Google Home-enabled smart doorbells, you can easily see who’s at your door from anywhere in the house, across town, or in the world—essentially, wherever you have a connection.
Google Home can even control robot vacuums. Window and door locks can be locked or unlocked remotely, and cameras can record movement outside and inside. Smart plugs can even allow users to control non-smart devices by turning on or off power. You can manage all of this through the Google Home app.
Do I need Google Nest devices to get the best results on my Google Home?
You don’t need Google Nest devices specifically for your Google Home smart home. Any device that is enabled for Google Home (look for a label that says “Works with Google”) will work with the Google Home system.
The benefit of using Google Nest products is that there will be little to no trouble setting up the devices on your system. Third-party smart home products often require downloading an app, creating an account, and then syncing the device with Google Home. That can be frustrating at times, as third-party apps may not communicate as well with Google Home. Nest products will give you the “no fuss, no fuss, no clutter” solution.
Google has also added Matter support to a number of first-party devices, including much of the Nest line. This interoperability standard allows other Matter devices that don’t natively support Google Home to work with the software. The list of Matter products is small, but it’s growing steadily, and it’s poised to become a big part of smart homes for years to come.
What are Google Home Routines?
Routines are sets of commands that you create with the Google Home app. If you’ve never done it before, don’t worry, the app will walk you through it. While many processes only need a single command, you may want multiple things to happen with a single command. You can specify what starts the routine, whether it’s a trigger phrase, a specific time of day, or the activation of an outdoor motion sensor.
For example, the voice command, “OK Google, bedtime,” can initiate lights off in all main rooms, and turn on a light in the bedroom stairwell, while turning the thermostat down a few degrees. You can follow up with tomorrow’s weather forecast or a list of what’s on your calendar.
You can activate routines that set a mood and include various smart devices. A single command can let you dim your living room lights to a warm candlelight glow, turn off your kitchen light, and play a specific playlist on your Nest Audio speakers.
At any time, you can update these routines, change them, or turn them on or off.
What kinds of things can I do with Google Home?
Google Home Routines create a world of possibilities for users. Say basic voice commands to start a favorite playlist from YouTube Music, Spotify, Pandora, TuneIn and iHeartRadio. If you have Chromecast with Google TV or a Google Home compatible TV, you can browse or launch shows just by asking.
If you have a question about absolutely anything, you can ask the Google Assistant instead of searching for it on your phone. You can also create a routine that gives you the weather and traffic report at a specific time each morning while you drink your coffee from the coffee pot that Google Assistant started at the assigned time.
Home security is another popular use with Google Home. You can create routines that turn on your interior lights on a schedule when you are away. When an outdoor light or motion sensor is triggered, Google Home can turn on a smart bulb inside your home, creating the impression that someone has noticed a sound outside. Add a dog barking sound that plays into the routine, and you’re all set.
In short, Google Home is your virtual butler that performs smart tasks around the house to automate life and make things easier. It’s a great addition if you’re interested in home automation or already have some smart devices around the house that allow you to issue simple commands to save time and make your home warmer, brighter, and safer.