The Google Home is not only a digital assistant that can answer questions, it can also help you control smart home devices using your voice.
Whether it’s the regular Google Home or the Home Mini, functionality doesn’t really change between the two. So, regardless of which device you have, or have gifted to someone, they both work the same.
Both have Google Assistant built-in, which is a voice assistant that can do an array of things when triggered into action. Simple search queries and basic questions are easy enough. Weather and traffic information is also inherently useful. But it’s the way it can integrate compatible smart home products that makes its reach most impressive.
Here are some of the best smart home devices that can work with the Google Home:
Google Home works just fine with the Chromecast Video HDMI stick, but the audio version is a standout for two reasons. First, it’s affordable. Second, it works with any speaker that has an Aux-In port or headphone jack. Those are pretty ubiquitous ports, meaning the device can work with current or even retro speakers going back years.
The Chromecast Audio basically connects to your home Wi-Fi network to enable connectivity to the speaker. Since Google Home recognizes Chromecast devices through its own app (Android or iOS), then it’s possible to verbally tell the speaker what to play through the Home.
A couple of points to consider: you can play music freely from Google Play Music, only free accounts are limited to requesting an artist or genre. Preloaded playlists on the app are also accessible. You can control volume, play, pause, stop, skip tracks, all through voice.
If you’re a subscriber to either Google Play Music or Spotify, then you can request a specific song, artist, album, genre, playlist (that you created) and more. It will not work with Apple Music, Tidal or other streaming music services.
LED bulbs are not only economical with reduced carbon output, they also offer dynamic lighting situations with little installation or know-how. Philips Hue is one of the best, and its smart bulbs are even more convenient through voice.
When linking a Hue account to the Home, users can control their smart bulbs through basic commands. For example, the bulbs will respond when saying, ‘Okay Google, turn off my bedroom lights’ or ‘Hey Google, turn up living room lights to full brightness.’
For now, Home can change colours, and brighten or dim lights. It is fairly deep on colours, recognizing just about anything deemed a shade or colour, not just the basics. However, it can’t change scenes, regardless of whether you created them or not. That functionality is likely to work sometime down the line, but that is the biggest omission so far.
Heating and air conditioning should probably have some form of voice control, and that’s exactly how it works when the Home taps into the Nest Thermostat.
For instance, the thermostat will react when Home hears something like, ‘Hey Google, what’s the temperature inside,’ or ‘Hey Google, make it warmer.’ You can tell it to set to a specific temperature, or raise or lower it a set number of degrees. There is a fairly broad set of commands available, making it possible to adjust heating or cooling without having to go check.
As an alternative, Google Home also works with Ecobee smart thermostats, so you don’t have to go with the Nest model to get this kind of integration.
Home surveillance should probably have some form of voice integration, which is essentially how the Nest Cam works with Google Home. The camera can send a live feed on demand to a TV, so long as the user has a Chromecast plugged into it.
As an example, if they were to say, ‘Play backyard camera on basement TV,’ it would push the live view over to the big screen. The key to this is in correctly calling out the pieces involved. In this scenario, the camera would have been labeled as ‘backyard’ while the Chromecast plugged into the TV was noted as ‘basement TV.’
You don’t have to only control one camera, either. Home recognizes all attached to the account holder, meaning you could switch from one camera’s view to another by simply telling Home to do it.
An alternative to the Nest Cam is the lineup of cameras from Netatmo. Both its indoor Welcome and outdoor Presence cameras work with Google Home, and are capable of doing many of the same things.
This is more of a suite of products, rather than one specific item, but the implications are similar throughout. Two of the standouts are the Light Switch and Mini Smart Plugs. The Light Switch is an integrated switch replacing a typical one. Install it, and you could turn on or off whatever light it’s connected to by saying so.
The Smart Plugs make any device connected to them smart by extension. For example, plug in an air purifier or humidifier and you could tell Google Home to turn it on or off. Since we’re talking about power plugs, the options are widespread, provided you play it safe, of course.
So, this one is a bit of an outlier among the group because the Home integration hasn’t rolled out yet. It is confirmed though, and will be coming to the Sonos One in 2018. Sonos hasn’t announced a definitive date, but what we do know is that the speaker will respond to voice commands. That will enable playback and music by request, much like is already possible with speakers that have Chromecast functionality.
What’s unique about this speaker is that it will also have Amazon Alexa built-in, putting it in the enviable position of working with two voice assistants.
What else is there?
Google Home’s compatibility range and scope is increasing, and the list will only grow further. It does work with hubs like Wink and Samsung Connect, which in turn, work with devices that may not have direct integration with the Home. Using either of those as a bridge means you can stretch out voice control even further.
Check out the latest smart home devices available now.