Did you get a Google Home (or Alexa) as a gift last Christmas ? Or was it bundled with the other electronic gadget that you bought?
Perhaps you heard about this device but haven’t made up your mind if you need one or not.
In all cases, knowing what the smart speaker can do (or not do) for you can help in getting the most out of the speaker. It can make your life easier and fun within your home and with the right commands, can be an assistant (as the claim is).
In this post, I will go over some of the basics of using Google Home. A more advanced usage guide will follow in a later post. Also, this post is specific for Google Home and all commands here have been tested on Google Home, but some of the routines or commands could also work for Amazon alexa.
Do you already have a morning alarm on your phone, another one on your partner’s phone and a dedicated alarm clock but still struggle to get out of the bed ? Then you are in luck with Google home as you can use it to set yet another morning alarm to help you get out of bed :)
You can also configure a Good morning routine where you can configure the speaker to tell you the weather, your day’s calendar, the latest news from the outlets you want and even tell you a motivational quote. Listen to all of this while you sip your morning coffee (which at the moment you have to make it yourself)
To configure the morning routine, just ask
Ok Google, good morning or go to the Home app on your phone.
Once configured, the routine can be triggered by saying,
Ok Google. Good Morning!
Remind me in..
Setting up a timer for 20 minutes after putting the pizza in the oven or reminding yourself every 30 days to change the water filter? These are some of the small things that add mental load to us and we solve these via numerous tools, ranging from timers on our phone for the 20 mins pizza timer or a monthly calendar invites for changing the filter.
Google Home can automate some of these for you and make life easier. Instead of finding your phone to set a timer, just say
Ok Google, timer for 20 mins. You can use similar commands to set recurring reminders which can also be added to your calendar.
Such small commands can greatly help in simplifying some of the regular household chores.
Help me Sleep
Just like waking up to Google Home with a
Good Morning routine, you can customize your google assistant for a `Good night` routine.
This can be configured on the Home app on your smartphone and once configured, is triggered by
Ok Google, good night
Such a routine can be configured to play nature sounds like rain, ocean or crickets chirping to help you relax and sleep. You can also configure to use some 3rd party apps to start a short meditation session before you go to sleep (*More on 3rd party apps on a separate post)
Music or Inspiration
We all know that spotify has a playlist for every occasion. Did you know that you can link your music streaming service (like Spotify, Deezer) to your Google Assistant and then play those playlist with a simple voice command.
The voice command is as simple as
Ok Google, play New Music Friday from spotify (* New music Friday is a weekly curated playlist by folks at Spotify)
Playing music with a voice command while sitting in your living room does have something magical about it. What makes it even great is that the commands with Spotify work seamlessly (Good job Spotify!) and you can trigger them even without having a premium Spotify subscription (yay!)
Just like music and podcasts, audio books are great to listen to on smart speakers. However free/freemium services playing audio books are non existent so far on the smart speakers app store and hence we at speakhub decided to build one. You can find the details at the website book-reader or on the Google’s apps directory
All the audio recordings are in public domain courtesy of librivox. Please feel free to give us feedback on the book-reader app!
Connected TV, Chromecast or Philips Hue
Controlling smart devices in your home, whether its is a Philips Hue lightbulb or a Smart washing machine, is where these assistants found their niche to begin with. So, its not surprising that every smart appliance has an integration to Google Home (and Alexa).
Even if you do not have these smart appliances, a cheap and easy way to make your TV smart is through a chromecast. Chromecast is a device that you can put on your TV and stream content to the TV via your phone or directly ask Google Home to stream it.
Once you have a chromecast configured with your assistant, You could stream content from Youtube, Netflix or other streaming services using voice commands directly to your television sets.
Ok Google, play Shrek from Netflix or
Ok Google, play the latest episode of Last Week Tonight from Youtube
The content is streamed via Chromecast to your television without you having to manually cast (or worst case attach an HDMI cable!!) to the television set. You are all set to Netflix and Chill :D
Google started as a search engine and it still does offer search (surprise). And you can do a search with voice commands using Google Home. So next time you want to know the capital of Azerbaijan or the Imdb rating of ‘Shawshank Redemption’, don’t reach for your phone, simply ask for it :)
You would not be the only one doing search over voice. According to Google, over 27% searches now happen via voice.
This was a simple guide to get you started with your Google Home and get more use out of it to simplify your life within the house. In future posts, we will dig deeper into some of the advanced automation that you can do and discover some great apps that you can use over Google Home. Meanwhile, subscribe this blog for reviews of some great apps or other useful tips and tricks. Till next time, Happy Speaking