Google Home is a smart, voice-activated speaker that uses Google Commands as its control. Like it's more famous counterpart Alexa, Google Assistant is the engine that controls your Google Home speaker, and you can use these verbal directions to play music throughout your home, get updates on the latest weather and even play "Stranger Things" on your TV. Here's how to get started.
Skills Versus Commands
With Amazon's Alexa, you have access to "Skills." These are voice-controlled apps that let Alexa perform certain tasks such as play music or order an Uber. Google Home has something very similar called "Commands." Many of these are tied to established Google services like Google Calendar and Gmail, but more third-party developers are providing commands for their products.
If you are familiar with Alexa and wonder where the skills are for Google Home, think of "commands" as the same thing.
Setting Up Your Google Home
Before getting too involved with commands, you will need to set up your Google Home speaker. This requires an account with Google, but if you have a Gmail account, you already have it. Download the Google Home app to your smartphone, then follow the instructions to complete the process.
One helpful thing to note is how Google Home can link different voices to different Google accounts. If you use your voice to set up the speaker, it links how you sound to whatever account used during setup.
As with Alexa's skills, you have to say something before the smart speaker will let you access Google commands. Say either, "Hey Google" or "OK Google" to let the device know to listen for your command.
What can you do? Here is a short list of the most common commands you can use.
● Hear the weather ("Hey Google, what's the weather today?")
● Set alarms and timers ("OK Google, set an alarm for one hour from now.")
● Play music and even set music as your alarm: You can set your Google Home speaker to play music from Spotify, Pandora, YouTube Music, or Google Play Music. Once set, you can simply tell it to play an artist or style. ("Hey Google, play jazz.")
● Check your calendar ("OK Google, what's on my schedule for today?")
● Search Google ("Hey Google, what time zone is Indianapolis in?")
● Do basic math ("OK Google, what is 700 divided by 11?")
● Control your Philips Hue lights ("Hey Google, turn on the desk lamp.")
You can combine two related commands such as, "Play country music and set the volume at 50 percent."
Stay Current (And In Control)
Google Home is relatively new, so the number of commands it understands is increasing almost daily. To get the most from your smart speaker, check online regularly for anything new that Google or other companies have developed. This can help make sure you get the most from your Google Home.
— William O'Dea is a writer, editor, and game designer. This is his first story for GearBrain.