“Hey, Google” might be an integral part of your day, but you might not know everything you can do with Google Home Assistant. Spoiler alert: The possibilities are almost endless. We’re talking about recipe help in the kitchen to waking up on time in the morning, keeping party guests entertained and catching up on your favorite podcasts. Google Home can do a ton.
We’ve got seven essential tips you’ll use on the regular.
Light it up
Equipping your house (or even just one room) with smart light bulbs is another way to take advantage of Google Home. You do need special light bulbs to make this one work, and they’re quite a bit more expensive than your average bulb. We use Philips Hue’s smart LEDs in our bedroom. It’s really nice if I’m reading in bed with the lights on and start to get drowsy. All I need to say is “Hey Google, turn the lights off.” To bring the light back up, just say “Hey Google, turn on the lights.” You can also specify brightness, dimness and change the color.
Google Home supports a number of bulbs now in addition to Philips Hue like Lifix and others. To add a new bulb, make sure your app is up to date, tap Add > Set up device > New Devices > Next. From there, follow the on-screen instructions.
Cool off or warm up
We invested in a Nest thermostat for our home this year and if you’re as particular about the temperature as I am, I highly recommend. After you add the device to your Google Home app, you can ask Google to set your thermostat to a specific temperature. You can also make incremental changes (i.e. “OK, Google, raise the temperature 1 degree.“
You can control the thermostat from the app too, no talking necessary (Google Home app > choose the thermostat icon > change the temperature) One of my favorite parts about the Nest is that it learns how you like your temperature and adapts. For example, our Nest gets cooler at night before bed and warms up before we leave for work. The Nest can also remind you to change your air filter.
An added bonus to setting an alarm
Asking Google to wake you up in the morning is a bit easier than setting the alarm on your phone’s clock or — gasp — a real clock. Simply say, “Hey Google, set my alarm for…” and give your desired time. The alarm will sound and to shut it off, you just have to say “stop.”
Of course, you don’t have to be turning in for the night to use the alarm. You can also say “Hey Google, set a timer for…” which keeps your hands free during workouts, cooking or if you’re coloring your hair. To silence the alarm, again, just say “stop.” You don’t have to say, “Hey Google or OK Google” before that.
Music, news and podcasts, oh my!
To play your favorite songs podcasts, make sure your preferred music app — YouTube Music, Google Play Music, Spotify, Pandora and Deezer are supported — is linked to your Google Home app. From there, you can ask Google to play a specific song or genre (i.e. “Hey Google, play ’90s rock“). If you like a song, you can ask Google to save it on the app. To end your tunes “Hey Google, stop the music” is your go to phrase.
You can also use the smart speaker with podcasts, but you have to ask for a specific one (i.e. “…play My Favorite Murder”). If you stopped listening in the middle of an episode, either on Google Home or your phone, it’ll pick up where you left off. To hear the headlines you can customize your favorite news sources on the Google Home app and change the order they’re played in. Most news stations have a podcast, so you can ask Google to play that, as well.
Get the weather forecast, today’s and next week’s
Are you going to need an umbrella today? Did it just get really cold? Just ask Google what the weather is like and it will give you the current temperature and an overview for the rest of the day wherever you are. Google can give forecasts further out, as well, if you ask for the weekend or next week.
Google has a few games — I’d recommend trying Mad Libs, Lucky Trivia, or Song Quiz first. These can be fun party games or a good way to keep kids occupied on a rainy afternoon.
Movies playing nearby
The days of calling the movie theater and listening to a recording read titles are long gone. When you ask “Which movies are playing?,” Google will list a few titles, and ask which film interests you. From there, Google can help you pick a time and tell you how to purchase tickets at your nearest theater through Fandango.