Last month, Google made some exciting new announcements regarding their line of hardware across their Google Home and Pixel range. I watched in excitement as their key note speech detailed new software updates to current models of the Pixel as well as brand new hardware in their Google Home range. You can view the full keynote here:
Ever since the Google Home fell into our lives last year we’ve never looked elsewhere when it came to at-home AI. We’d used Alexa at a friends house and, to be honest, it was dull and quite often didn’t recognise what we were saying. Google just works and is still an impressive piece of kit. I didn’t know I’d actually need one until we got one.
Boring Disclosure Bit Before I Continue: This isn’t an advert. Honestly. I was gifted (something that is sent to someone with absolutely no requirement or expectation of a mention or review) a Google Home last year and have been using it ever since. This post comes from me because I love our Google Home and genuinely love the brand.
Be More At Home
Looking back over the years, apart from a new games console, I don’t think I’ve ever been this excited about a brand before. Google ticks all the boxes for me. Previously, I was an avid Apple follower, starting with the iPhone3 back in 2007. We even got an Apple TV and a iMac to complete the theme. However, over the years the new phones didn’t excite me and the software became disappointing.
I then made the move from Apple to Google last year by upgrading my phone to a Pixel2 and I fell completely in love with Google – even more so because the Pixel2 seamlessly speaks to our Google Home. I’m going to be writing a comparison-style / why-I-love-the-Pixel2-so-much post soon, but for now, this post is about the Google Home.
Our first edition of the Google Home was their original… erm… Google Home, and when we first started using her/it we primarily used it (I’ll go with ‘it’) around the home to make things easier. We would create shopping lists, play music or listen to the radio, watch Netflix (Chromecast required), even play games, and this was fun and, to be honest, we were happy with what it gave us. We knew it could do more such as speak to other apps or devices (eg. Nest) but we didn’t have these so didn’t concern ourselves. We were impressed with the voice recognition as well as the sound. It was perfect.
A few months down the line we then got another Google Home, but this time in the form of their Google Home ‘Mini’ which is the doughnut shaped speaker-only version of it’s predecessor. Although the mini’s aim wasn’t to replace the previous version per se – each device has their own pro’s and con’s (another blog post in the making!) – this was clearly a slimline, more space saving device. This one went in our kitchen. A third then went in our bedroom.
Over time, as more apps got added and more capabilities were announced, we grew with the Google Home too; turning to it a lot more when it came to finding things out (instead of using our phones) and keeping up to date via the Home app (which also got a refresh this year). Now T is a lot older, he’s even using it as well – albeit to ask what noises certain animals/vehicles/monsters make! It’s actually impressive the Google Home can understand what he’s saying.
I have no doubt that when he starts school next year this will become a huge part is everyone’s learning.
It Learns with You
Following on from our previous post about the Google Home (I’ll leave another link here), I thought I’d share an up-to-date list as to what we get up to and why we think it’s a useful tool in the home and for the family – I’d love to know what you think, including any doubts if you have them!
For more things you can do with your Google Home, or for an up-to-date list on all compatible software and hardware, visit the official list here (link also includes US-only services).
(*apps or additional hardware required)
- Create shopping lists – including via your favourite shopping apps.
- Find a plumber, carpenter, or any other tradesperson out there by simply asking Google to find one.
- Find local or specific shops.
- Tell Google “You’re Feeling Lucky” and a fast paced game of trivia will begin.
- Set up a subscription for Google to tell you a joke everyday (or maybe the once if you’re not that keen on Dad Jokes).
- Unless you have time to find them all, Google Home has an array of Easter Eggs hidden inside – from Star Wars to Star Trek – just ask her what her Easter Eggs are.
- Ask Google Home to “drop a beat” and be prepared for rap perfection.
- There are a huge number of games installed on the Google home – one our favourites at the moment is; “Which Avenger Am I?”. But you can also ask it to start a game of musical chairs.
- Fancy a game with Dustin from Stranger Things? Or to be transported to a random location in Fortnite? Play adventure games with the Google Home.
- Say ‘Good Morning, Google’ you will receive the morning headlines from your trusted outlets.
- Fancy going back in time? ‘The Time Machine’ lets you find out the news stories from years gone by.*
- Ask for sports updates.
- Request advice on health via WebMD
Education (*apps required)
- Get translations for words and phrases.
- Look up definitions or spell check using the dictionary (there’s also the ‘Modern Dictionary’ for the more mature audience!)
- Learn new facts by asking the Google Home to tell you something interesting.
- Take part in a spelling Bee.*
- Similar to the collection of Games installed, there are also a large amount of quizzes included – from city quizzes to science trivia.
- Get assistance on difficult (or basic) calculations.
Around the Home
- Ask Google to ‘Tell you about your day’ for up to date reminders and calendar entries.
- Adjust the heating.*
- Turn down the Lights.*
- Check your home security.*
- Why not set up a routine in the app so that by saying ‘Goodnight, Google’ the device will dim any lights and turn down the heating.
- Print photos and documents. *
- Manage your Google Calendar.
- Send a text or WhatsApp.
- Find new recipes (the new Google Home Hub now shows you this thanks to it’s smart display!)
Or better yet… Cook with Tasty (you know, that awesome cooking page via BuzzFeed?)
- Find nutritional information about your food or simple measurement guides.
- Set an alarm or custom reminders to do something.
- Wake up to music by your favourite radio station or artist.
- Dinner Time? Broadcast a message to everyone around the house.
- Make a hands-free phone call.
- Linked to your phone, Google Home can also find your lost phone!
- Ask Google to remember things for you such as lock combinations.
- Listen to the radio via TuneIn for FREE.
- Play Ocean or Healing Sounds for a moment of calm.*
- Ask Google for certain Spotify Playlists or single tracks.
- Listen to Podcasts.
- Ask Google to sing ‘Happy Birthday’.
- Can’t remember the name of that song playing in the background? Ask Google to find out what song is currently playing.
- Listen to an audio book.*
- Via Chromecast, ask the Google Home to stream Netflix or BBC iPlayer to your television.*
- Set reminders for your favourite TV shows.
- Cast your favourite YouTube creators and videos straight to your screen via Chromecast.
- View your Google Photos on your TV screen.
- Watch the news via your favourite / trusted News outlets.
- Ask Google to set an alarm for 8pm to prompt you to get ready – why not ask it to also play your favourite Spotify playlist to help you along the way.
- Ask ‘Time Out’ what you can do today.
- Ask Google Home what the weather is going to be like.
- Going on holiday? Ask Google what the temperature is like where you’re going.
- Search for flights and hotels.
- Ask Google to find a restaurant or bar nearby.
- Driving? Find out what the traffic conditions are like or where the nearest petrol station is.
- Ask for directions.
Just for the Kids
- Ask Google Home what noises certain animals make (it even does Ghosts!)
- Similarly, ask Google Home what noise ANYTHING makes!
- Find out what your inner animal or fruit is with a fun personality quiz.
- ‘Guess the Letter’ is a fun flash-card game to encourage play using the alphabet.
- Ask Smallfoot to teach you to speak Yeti.
- Request a Goodnight Song.
Let’s not forget that the Google Home is, putting it simply, a hands-free Google Search ready for you to ask it anything; just like you would on your phone or computer. Forgot when Mother’s Day is? How about the ingredients to a Lasagne? It’s there. All you have to do is ask. You may even strike up a conversation – she’s actually really funny (and quite sarcastic at times).
We haven’t yet played with the newest addition, the Google Home Hub, however from the looks of things, it looks like a welcome addition to the Google Home family. I can’t wait to one day give it a try.
Photo by John Tekeridis from Pexels