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How to use a Google Nest Hub as the perfect bedside alarm clock

The small smart display makes a great device for your bedside table

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There is an argument that technology should be banished from the bedroom, with anything even vaguely smart replaced by a mechanical alarm clock and nothing else.

But in 2021 technology is in almost every corner of our homes, and just because something has a touch screen and an internet connection, it shouldn't automatically stop us from getting a good seven hours each and every night.

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Step forward the Google Nest Hub. The smaller of two smart displays currently offered by Google's Nest smart home division, the Hub (formerly the Home Hub) is compact enough to fit on most bedside tables, and with the Google Assistant it can be used as a convenient alarm clock.

Google Nest Hub only $129 at Walmart

What's more, the Nest Hub intelligently adjusts the brightness and temperature of its display to match the ambient lighting conditions. This means it will dim in the evenings, and when you switch off the bedroom light it will go very dark and display nothing but the time.

I've had a Nest Hub at my bedside for almost a year now and, while the time can just about be seen when I look at it in total darkness, the display is in no way distracting and gives off almost no light at all. During the day, it makes for an attractive picture frame that cycles through images from Google's catalogue, or my own photo library.

How to set an alarm with Google Nest Hub

Google Nest HubGoogle Home Setting an alarm is as easy as asking Google AssistantGearBrain

Once connected to your Wi-Fi network and logged into with your Google account, all you have to do to set an alarm is ask the Google Assistant.

Just say: "Hey Google, set an alarm for 7am" and that's it. You can also ask for something more complex, like: "Okay Google, set an alarm for 6:30am every weekday morning."

You can set multiple alarms for each day, a different daily alarm time, or alarms which differ depending on whether it's a weekday or the weekend. Cancelling an alarm is just a case of saying: "Hey Google, cancel the 7am alarm" or: "Okay Google, cancel all of my alarms."

Google Nest Hub only $69.99 at Best Buy

Because the Nest Hub has a screen, you can add names to the alarms. For example, say: "Hey Google, set an alarm for 7am named 'take out the trash,'" and that message will appear on the screen when you wake up, reminding you of your morning chores.

You can ask to see all of your current alarms by saying: "Hey Google, show me my alarms," and they can then be deleted by tapping. It's also possible to see your alarms in silence (if your partner is already asleep, for example) by tapping at the alarm icon on the Hub's home page. From here, you can add or delete alarms by tapping - again, in complete silence.

When an alarm goes off, it rings for 10 minutes if you don't do anything to intervene. To stop the alarm, just say, "Stop.' This is one of the rare occasions when you don't need to say, "Hey/Okay Google," because the microphone is opened when the alarm sounds, meaning the Assistant is ready for your command right away. You can also tap 'stop' on the display. The alarm can be snoozed for 10 minutes by just saying: "Snooze", or you can specify a time by saying: "Snooze for five minutes."

Google recently made it possible to pick from a range of different alarm sounds. These are split into four categories called Light, Medium, Heavy and Natural, with a total of 20 different alarm sounds to pick from. That way, you can pick the alarm that wakes you up the most effectively, based on heavily you sleep.

Google Nest HubGoogle Nest Hub Multiple alarms can be set, by using voice or touchGearBrain

How to set a sunrise alarm

A new feature of the Nest Hub (and also on the larger Nest Hub Max, too) is called Sunrise Alarm. With this enabled, the display will gradually brighten to wake you up by simulating a sunrise. It isn't as realistic as having a room full of smart lights doing the same thing, or a dedicated sunrise alarm like those by Lumie, but it's a nice free feature regardless, and will work well if you have a very dark room with blackout blinds.

When setting the Sunrise Alarm you can also ask the Nest Hub to turn up your smart lights in unison with the display. Available smart lights appear on the display, making it easy to select the ones you want to simulate sunrise each morning. The sunrise simulation can be set to last between five and 30 minutes.

Another option here is called Pre-alarm. When enabled, this plays soothing sounds when the sunrise alarm begins, so the gradual brightening of the room will be accompanied by gentle sounds to help wake you up gradually – a nice alternative to the sudden blare of a regular alarm.

Lastly, this same menu lets you pick a routine for the Google Assistant to activate when you alarm is silences. This could be configured to switch on more lights elsewhere in the home, adjust the thermostat, turn on your smart coffee machine and read you the morning news headlines and weather forecast, before turning to a favorite playlist or radio station.

Sunrise Alarm options on a Google Nest Hub Sunrise Alarm options on a Google Nest HubGearBrain

To access all of these settings, just follow these instructions:

  1. Swipe up from the bottom of the Nest Hub display
  2. Tap on the alarm clock icon, third from the right
  3. Tap on the Set an alarm button
  4. Set the time
  5. On the next screen you can adjust the sunrise and routine settings, as well as set the sound of the alarm itself.

How to set a music alarm with Google Nest Hub

You can set your Nest Hub to play a certain song, artist, genre or playlist from as the alarm, from your default music service. This feature is available on all Google and Nest speakers and displays operating in English (US), but is not available on the smaller Google Home Hub or Nest Hub in any language other than English (US). A such, being in the UK I'm not able to set a music alarm on my Google Home Hub, but could if I had the larger Nest Hub Max.

To set a music alarm, say something like: "Okay Google, set [artist/genre/playlist] alarm for 7am tomorrow".

If your Nest Hub loses its Wi-Fi connection during the night (and thus its ability to play music) a regular alarm will play at the right time instead.

Whatever type of alarm you set, it will only play on the device you speak to. If you want an alarm to go off in two bedrooms at the same time, you'll have to set it on two separate Nest Hubs.

Finally, Google offers a selection of 'character alarms.' These are designed for children and include spoken alarms from a range of Lego characters, as well as the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. These alarms are currently only available in English for U.S. and Canadian users.

To set a character alarm, ask Google Assistant in the normal way, but include the character's name when describing the alarm.

Here is a full list of character alarms available from Google, as of January 2021:

  • Lego City
  • Lego Life
  • Lego Friends
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
    • Leonardo
    • Michelangelo
    • Raphael
    • Donatello
    • April O'Neil
  • Hatchimals
Check out The GearBrain, our smart home compatibility checker to see the other compatible products that work with Google Assistant enabled devices.

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