Google to Release an Update to Fix Slow WiFi Problems with Chromecast and Google Home

Google Home

Google is set to roll out an update to Google Play Services tomorrow aimed at addressing the slow WiFi issue that some users of Chromecast and Google Home have experienced.  The issue cropped up a couple of weeks ago and at first, was thought to be an issue with the new Google Home Max.  It turns out that Google Play Services was the culprit.

For those that haven’t encountered the problem (good!), it comes down to Android devices on your network as well as Chromecast and Home devices.  Essentially what was happening is that Android devices on the same network would see the Cast enabled device and flood your network with packets.  That would cause slowness or instability.  It was effectively an internal DDoS attack.

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Google’s Presence at CES Will Be Heavily Focused on Google Assistant

Google Assistant

For the first time in many years, Google will be at CES in Las Vegas this coming week.  It is the first time the company has had any real presence at the massive electronics show since 2015 but it has been a lot longer than that since they have had a booth.  Not only will they have a booth, a massive one in the Central Plaza, but it looks like they are going to be heavily focusing on Google Assistant during the show.

The company made a blog post yesterday, highlighting the growth of Google Assistant and Google home over the course of 2017.  Assistant is now available on 400 million devices and in a doze different countries.  But the takeaway from the post was the last paragraph.

No matter where you are, the Google Assistant is here to help you make the most of 2018. And next week, we have even more things in store for the Assistant at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. If you’re at CES, stop by the Google Assistant Playground (Central Plaza-21) to check out some of our new integrations, devices, and the newest ways you can use your Assistant

It would appear that next week, we are going to see some announcements about Assistant and, potentially, some new hardware.

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How to Create a Google Home Audio Group

My Google Home Group in the Home App

One of the best features of Google Home when it comes to audio is one that I suspect many have not heard of or used.  It is called Home Grouping and it allows you to put your Home and Chromecast audio devices into a logical group inside the Home app.  Once done, you can give the command to play music on that group and it will play across all of your Home devices.  It is a great feature and is easy to setup.

First, make sure you have the latest Google Home app on your phone.  Next, make sure that your phone and the Home, and the Chromecast devices you want to add to your group are all on the same network.  In other words, you can’t do this while you are on a business trip or on holiday.  You have to be home to do it.  Finally, make sure all of your Home device and Chromecast devices are turned on so they can be found.  With that, let’s get to the How To.

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Google Assistant Gains Dozens of New Partner Integrations

Google Assistant Partner Solutions

Google has quietly done a bit of updating to the Google Assistant Partner site as well as pushing an update of integration options to the Google Home app.  The app update is a cloud-side change so as long as you have the latest version, you’ll be able to see the expanded list when you go to add a new device.

The additional partners range from everything from electric car charging, to lights and switches, to sprinkler control systems.  Some of the new integrations on the list aren’t exactly new – some have been in play for a few months – but Google just now got around to updating the official listing to let everyone know about them.

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Google Home Down to $79 at The Google Store

Google Home

Of all of my Google devices, Google Home is quickly becoming my favorite.  I use it for everything from catching up on the morning news, listening to music or podcasts, and getting information with a simply command.  With Google Assistant built-in and Google continually adding functionality, we are only now seeing the tip of the iceberg of what Google Home could be doing for us and our smart homes in the future.

Normally Google Home is $129 but through the month of December, at the Google Store, you can pick one up for $79.  That $50 savings would effectively let you buy a Google Home Mini (nearly two in fact) so you can have Google Assistant available to you in multiple rooms in your home.  The Home Mini is down to just $29 right now at the Google Store.

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Google Assistant on Home Can Responds to Two Commands at Once

Google Home

Google Assistant on Google Home has picked up a nice new feature that allows you to give it two commands at once.  To this point, when you wanted to ask Assistant for something, you had to ask it one command at a time, even if they were associated with each other.  For example, you could ask, “What is the temperature outside?” but you would have to wait until it gave you the temperature information before you could tack on, “Do I need a rain coat?”   Now you can issue those commands as one single command joined with the conjunction “and”.  Now I can ask, “What is the temperature outside and will I need a rain coat?”

Not all commands work this way yet and not everyone is seeing this new functionality.  It is a cloud-side change on Google’s part so it is a matter of it making its way to Google Assistant on your account.

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Google Home Adds Multiple Calendar Support

Google Home App

It has taken a long time – longer than most wanted frankly – but multiple calendar support has finally arrived on Google Home.  A cloud-side update is currently rolling out to the app that will allow you to have multiple calendars associated with Google Home and thus, you will be able to create events or get calendar information from Google Assistant.

The new feature is found in More Settings>Calendar in the Home app and you will have the ability to add or remove your calendars that you have associated with Home.  Further, you have the ability to set which calendar is your default calendar.  This is important as when you create an event through Google Assistant on Home, it will go to your default (unless you specify the calendar in the command).

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