Category: Google Home

Google Home Promotion for 6 Months of Google Play Music Ends Soon

A friendly reminder to all of those who have been debating picking up a Google Home.  The promotion that gives you six months of free streaming audio on Google Play Music ends on February 27th.  That means if you want this promotion, you need to get your order in prior to that date.

Google Home launched with a lot of promotions including Google Play Music and YouTube Red.  These services are tied together so if you have a subscription for Play Music unlimited, you also have YouTube Red.  This is true for this promotion as well.  If you are already a subscriber to Google Play Music, sorry, you can’t take advantage of this promotion.

Google Home Gains Belkin Wemo and Honeywell Smart Device Support

Slow but surely, Google Home is getting smarter.  Today the Home team announced that support for smart home devices from Belkin and Honeywell could now be controlled by the smart speaker-Google Assistant infused device.  Belkin Wemo and Honeywell both make a wide range of smart home accessories that are Wi-Fi enabled such as thermostats, light switches, electrical plugs and webcams.  Now you can add these to you Google Home in the Home Control section of the app and as long as everything is on the same network, you can set it up to be controlled by Google Home.

When Home was launched last year, Google was clear that more partners would be coming to the device and more integrations would be coming.  So far we’ve seen Netflix added from an app perspective as well as a huge number of bots to get information from various resources.  With the addition of Belkin and Honeywell, from a smart home perspective, you are no longer just tied to Nest.

Google Home Gets 34 New Bots For News and Games

It has been a good week for Google Home users.  First came the integration with Netflix and Google Photos earlier in the week.  Second, and just yesterday, a slew of new bots were added to Google Home to help you get news, information, how to’s and even play games, all from voice commands to your Home.  The new bots, 34 of them in all, are available under the Services section of the app on your Android phone.  I’m referring to them as bots because you have to specifically tell Home which service to talk to and you get automated information back from that service.  It is much like a chat bot – just using your voice instead.

The list of services is pretty impressive and all of them are enabled by default.  You just have to tell Home which one you want to access.  This is done by saying “Hey Google, let me talk to about ”.  As an example, you can talk to Dominos and track your order or, equally as important, order your saved Easy Order.  Yes the fact you have to tell Home to which service to use is a bit awkward but I suspect that this will improve over time just as Home in general has improved.

Google Home Integration with Netflix Rolling Out

Google Home owners have a nice update rolling out to the Google Assistant enabled Smart Speaker.  Google is rolling out an update behind-the-scenes that is enabling the ability to add your Netflix account to the app as well as Google Photos.  When it hits your account and it is enabled on the server side by Google, it means you will be able to give your Home commands to show Netflix content or your Google Photos content by voice command.

The Netflix integration is something that most Home users, me included, have been waiting to see.  It was demonstrated at the Google event back in October and gives you the ability to instantly start watching content beyond that of Google’s services (like YouTube and Google Play Music) on your Chromecast or your Cast enabled television.

Review of Google Home – Powerful But Room to Grow

Google Home, in many ways, is the physical realization of the machine learning that Google has been doing for years.  Equipped with Google Assistant, this small, unassuming device that sits in your home is a gateway to Google and all of your personal information at a voice command away.  It is powerful and handy… but not perfect.  Like many first generation products, Google Home has room for growth in what it can do, the apps it can interact with and, of course, how it interacts with you.  I’ll borrow a phrase from my Google OnHub review earlier this year:  If you are an early adopter, Google Home is a great product for you to consider.  If not, you may want to give it a few months and software updates to improve.  And it will improve.  Unlike OnHub, which Google hasn’t fully abandoned but equally isn’t doing much more investing in thanks to Google Wi-Fi, Home is a central and key part of what Google considers the next technical transition we are to see.  That transition is from mobile to machines and Google Home will be at the center of this transition.

I’ve had my Google Home for about a week now and I have to say that it is very much a part of my daily routine and work flow.  It saves me from having to pick up my Nexus 6P or Nexus 9 to use the “OK Google” voice commands (if my phone is locked, I have to unlock it to get the results) and gives me a wealth of information all a voice command away.  But I can already see things I’d like to improve, particularly around app integration and more natural language discussions.  But that will come in time.  One thing is for sure:  The speakers in Google Home are impressive and have excellent sound.  For this, you won’t be disappointed.

Google Home Down to $99 Tomorrow

If you have been wanting to pick up a Google Home, tomorrow is the day to do it.  Tomorrow, November 23rd, you will be able to pick the Google Assistant powered smart speaker for just $99 at Google’s Store as well as Best Buy.  The sale is going to be limited to tomorrow and Google is indicating there will be limited quantities.  If you are wanting to get one, you need to jump on it quickly as at that price, they will sell pretty fast.

Home has been doing well by all indicates and while it certainly has some limitation on what it can do currently, you can see where Google wants to go with it as a centerpiece of the “AI first” movement.  Having had a Home in my office for a few weeks now (review coming later this week), I’ve found it be very handy and helpful with things but equally, I’ve bumped into some limitations that I hope are addressed soon.

How To Enable Audible Confirmation on Google Home

Google Home has some impressive microphones built into it and can hear you for a good distance away depending on the ambient noise level of your home. Sometimes, however, it would be nice to get some sort of acknowledgement that Home actually heard your command.  Sure you have the swirling lights at the top but what if you aren’t looking at it or are even out of sight of your Home?  Fortunately there is an easy way around this and it all comes down to a setting inside the Home app.

In this How To I’ll show you how to set up your Google Home to give you an audible tone when you start or end a request.

Need Help With Google Home? Try the Google Home Forums

Like most products and apps from Google, Google Home has a user-based help forum available for everyone.  The forum is a great place to go get answers to your questions, find out news and information and interact with experts both from Google and other users on Home.  While the Home forums are not as active as other forums like the the one for Gmail, Project Fi or Google Photos, it is getting there pretty quick as more people order the smart speaker device for their home.

Google Home

Google Home

If you have a Home and are looking for some help or answers, head over to the forum and take a look around.  It is possible that your question has already been answered so be sure to do a search of the forum.  If not, you can easily post a question and one of the product experts or even a Googler will reply back with information if the answer is known.  If you are familiar with the forums for other products, you may be looking for who are the Top Contributors or Rising Stars.  Right now, because the product and the forum are both new, there are not any designated TCs yet.  That’ll change soon enough as more of us who are TCs in other communities (I am one in Google Photos) answer questions and, of course, new users who lend a helping hand to their fellow Home user.

Check out the forums to get help or to help others.  It’s a great community across a wide range of Google products and apps.

Google Home Actions API Opening To Developers Next Month

Having had a Google Home in my house for most of this week, there are some things that need improvement (I’ll cover that in more detail in my review coming up next week).  One of those areas is app integration.  There are just a handful of apps that work with the help of Google Assistant and Google Home.  For it to be successful, this has to change and it likely will starting next month.  Google has announced that the Google Assistant Actions API will be opening up to developers starting next month.  That means developers will be able to enhance their apps to work with Assistant and, in turn, Home, through three different action models.  First, there is the Direct Actions.  This is designed for straightforward requests for things like home automation, etc.  As the name suggests, it is something you direct your app to do as it interacts with Assistant.

Read on for more details

Google Home Devices Starting to Ship

It appears that shipments for the new Google Home device have started for readers.  Multiple readers have either emailed or commented on Google+ of receiving shipment notifications of the $129 Google Assistant-powered device.  I too have received a shipment notification with it expected to arrive at the end of the week.

Aimed at competing with the Amazon Echo, Google Home brings the power of Google Artificial Intelligence to give you detailed information about your day, upcoming events, search information, travel information and the like.   While it is for everyone in the family, it tied to a single primary Google account.  Like Google OnHub, Home is aimed at sitting out in the open and doesn’t look like a piece of techno-kit sitting on a shelf.

Google Cast App Renamed Google Home

With the shipment of the Google Home device just days away for many of us, Google has started laying the groundwork for their arrival.  At the October event the company held, we learned that one of these steps would be rebranding the Google Cast app.  That has happened and is rolling out now.  The Google Home app is, essentially, the same app as Google Cast but will be able to add additional cast devices and of course the Home device once it is released.  Google, wisely in my opinion, has lumped the Cast and Home device management into one app, much like they have done with Google OnHub and Google Wi-Fi into the On app.  This will help cut down on the number of apps you have to install to manage the growing number of devices.

Google Publishes Supported Apps for Google Home

Earlier this week when Google Home was announced, we got a small sample of the apps and services that it will support in the event. It was pretty clear from the demos that Google Calendar, YouTube and Google Play Music would be supported, as well as some smart home solutions, but it wasn’t fully outlined.  Now that has been solved thanks to a posting in the Google Support pages.  The page outlines everything that is going to be supported by the Google Assistant-driven smart speaker when it starts shipping next month but you can bet this list is going to be changing as time goes on.

As for music, here is what is supported:

  • Google Play Music
  • YouTube Music
  • Spotify
  • Pandora
  • TuneIn