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Everything you need to know about Google Home

Welcome to the CNET Guide to Google Home Smart Speaker. You may be wondering if this relatively new category of technology is right for you, or if you've just bought one of Google's smart speakers or smart displays and you'd like to know what to do with it. Maybe you've seen all the news from the event Made by Google and you want to know what that means.

We can help. Here's how to get familiar with the basics of Google Home. Then you can do everything you can do as soon as you are ready. We'll also look at the bugs of the system and what's next for Google's smart speakers to complete the overview.

If you're not sure whether you want a Google Home, a Amazon Echo or maybe a Apple HomePod we can help with that as well. Here is a Guide to Buying the Right Smart Speaker for You, and here is a Breakdown of the Three Most Important Digital Assistants Built into Smart Speakers ̵

1; Google Assistant Amazon Alexa and Apple's Siri . If you just want to bring up to date, here are the Google Assistant Highlights from I / O in May and Google's New Vision for the Smart Home from the October event of the company.

Editorial Note : Originally released on April 26, 2018, this article will be updated as new features are announced, such as news from the Google I / O Developer Conference and the Google Made by October event ,

What is a Google Home?

The smart speaker of the eponymous search giant was designed to compete with the popular Amazon Echo. Google Home can play music, but is primarily intended as a Google Assistant tool – Google's voice-activated virtual helper connected to the Internet. The Google Assistant you access through the Home account is the same as on current Android phones such as Google Pixel 3 .

Google Home always listens to its environment, but it does not really save what you say or react to your commands until you say one of its pre-programmed Wake words – either "OK, Google" or "Hey, Google." Here is a list of commands that you can give to your Google Home .


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Google actually has three smart speakers. Google Assistant debuted in the original $ 130 Google Home . The Google Home Mini from $ 50 squeezes all the benefits of the original into a smaller, more affordable package. With Google Home Max of $ 400 Google's smart devices are integrated into a loudspeaker that delivers world-class sound.

With all three speakers, you have access to the same Google Assistant service. They differ in size, sound quality and price. They use the same Google Home app to set up all three, and all respond to the same Wake words and commands.

  JBL Link 300

The JBL Link 300 offers a lot of sound quality for the price.

Sarah Tew / CNET

You can also use the same Google Assistant through a variety of other smart speakers from other manufacturers, such as: The portable TicHome Mini and the JBL Link series . The Sonos One will also be working with Google Assistant later this year. Unless otherwise stated, all Google Home features I discuss below will work with all Google Assistant-enabled Smart Speakers. Choose your speaker, then read our tips for getting started . Here are a few tricks designed specifically for the original Google Home and a few tricks designed specifically for Google Home Max .

In addition to voice commands, every Google Home speaker has a limited number of physical controls. You can change the volume, mute the microphone, and play or pause your music through a physical interface on the speaker. For more information about these physical controls, see the video below.

Where to Buy Your Smart Speaker

You can buy Google Home Home for $ 130, Google Home Max for $ 400, and Google Home Mini for $ 50 online through the Google Store , You'll also find Google's speakers in a number of electronics stores, including Best Buy and even hardware stores like Lowes. Third-party speakers such as the JBL Link 300, priced at $ 250, are also available at electronics stores.

Making music

Once you've set up your Google Home setup, you can use your smart speaker to listen to music. You can use Google Home as your normal Bluetooth speaker and get the song you want on your phone. Better yet, use your voice to tell Google which song you want to hear. You can even search for lyrics if you do not remember the name or tell them to start a playlist of a particular genre.

Google takes titles from a variety of streaming services, including Google Play Music Spotify Pandora and YouTube . In the Google Home app, you can choose one of these services as the default. Google searches for this service first when you ask for a song or playlist. You can still access music in one of the other services by asking for the name.

Here are nine tips on how to make the most of your Google Home as a music streamer . The article also describes how to group multiple speakers so that you can sync a single song throughout the house. If you do not like the sound quality of Google Home or Google Home Mini (both are useful but not outstanding), you can send music to your favorite speaker either via a Chromecast streamer or . Bluetooth connection.


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Google Assistant can even play music on your TV when Chromecast is turned on. You can request to listen to your favorite TV show through various streaming services, such as Netflix and HBO Now. At I / O LG announced several TVs with Google Assistant . You need to press a button on a remote control to give a voice command so that the TV does not always listen. Sony was the first provider of televisions with a similar voice control function .

Ready to Help

Since its launch in November 2016, Google Home has become much better as a personal assistant. Here's a look back on the eventful year 2017 of the smart speaker and the many new features it has gained over the year. Here are the most important updates announced at the Google 2018 I / O Developer Conference, some of which are live now and some later this year.

You can always ask your Google Home account for basic tasks, such as web searching and reviewing your calendar. Now the wizard can do a lot more in your smart speaker. You can train Google Assistant to recognize up to six different voices . This allows you to adjust the answers based on the speaker . Google can then provide personalized answers when you ask for directions to work or your schedule for the day.

You can add different profiles for each member of your family. Google will be able to force some behaviors if your child wants to issue a command. Announced at I / O 2018, a feature called [Pretty Please] works by voice control and will prompt your child to say "the magic word". You can also activate the function for yourself.

More I / O updates are now available, making Google Home a better personal assistant. If you want Google to respond to you with a unique voice, you now have multiple options, and John Legend's voice will be added soon . Better still, different family members can pick different voices, and Google will switch, depending on who's speaking.

With the Continued Conversation feature you do not have to say the Wake words each time you ask a question. Google Home's microphone stays hot for up to 8 seconds, so you can ask a follow-up question without saying "Hey, Google." If you say "thank you," the connection will shut down prematurely. If you do not want Google's microphone to last longer than normal, you do not need to turn it on.

You can even make purchases via the Google Home which is confirmed only by your vote. Be careful by enabling this functionality, since we could easily fool your speech recognition .


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Thanks to frequent feature updates, you can now do a lot with your Google Home program. To find the full list of their capabilities including third-party capabilities.

Other highlights in the Google Home resume include:

  • Broadcasting : Make an announcement on a Google Home and it plays on all connected smart speakers in your home.
  • Recipe Help : Your Google Home helps you cook with step-by-step instructions, with the ability to jump back and forth as needed.
  • Call : You can make a call using your Google Home speaker. (Note: You can not currently use Google Assistant for third-party calls.)
  • Multiple Commands : You can send two commands to your Google Home one at a time.
  • Night Mode : Your Google Home can automatically reduce the volume of voice responses and the music stream at certain times of the day.
  • Routines : Issue a command like "Good morning" or "I'll go" and you can customize your Google Home so you can respond to it in a variety of ways, including your drive, messages and controls Your compatible smart home devices


Google Home in Smart Home

Routines Simplify the control of multiple smart home devices with a single command. Plus, they are getting better. Initially, had to choose from six ready-made options . Now you can customize the command, which activates the routine and adds any desired element to any routine – including podcasts, smart home controls, music playlists, and calendar updates.

Later this year, routines will be integrated into apps like Google Clock so your alarm clock can trigger your morning routine. Third parties can also create certain functions for routines, eg. For example, meditation music in your Google Home.

With customizable routines and now more than 10,000 compatible devices Google Home has become quite comfortable in the Smart Home. You can now sync a variety of devices with your Google-equipped smart speaker. Here is a guide to getting started with a Google-centric Smart Home .

See the list of compatible devices from Google. It includes thermostats, smart lights, smart switches, smart locks, sprinklers, security systems, large appliances and even a few cars. Google has also expanded its list of compatible devices to I / O and made them easier to control with natural commands. See the CNET guide for compatible smart home devices from Google.

You must use the Google Home app to sync your Google Account with the account for each smart device you control – for example, your Philips Hue account for your smart light bulbs. You can then control your smart devices with a voice command in your Google Home device. You can add them to rooms and control multiple devices at the same time by activating the "Turn off all lights in the living room" command. You can also add them to routines.

touch controls and smart ads

  google app "data-original =" https://cnet1.cbsistatic.com/img/S-EQMNXy_q2LY0l8rauPdXp9Njc=/620x0/2018/10/09/9ec45570-35e0- 4966 -8a5a-f317c24faebe / google-app.jpg

The new Google Home app.


After completing the smart home voice control options, Google turned its attention to touch controls at the company's "Made by Google" event in October. The Google Home app was previously only useful during setup. It is now a handy way to see and control all your gadgets .

Use the shortcut buttons above to perform common tasks, such as: B. switching off all the lights with a tap. Scroll down and you'll see all gadgets sorted by room. With the app, you can quickly access and control any connected gadget – you can set the exact brightness or color of your smart bulb or change the temperature or settings of your smart thermostat.

You can also use the app to reorganize and rename your gadgets and even add multiple accounts to your home so your users can also see gadgets through the app on their smartphones. Alternatively, you can group your gadgets in different locations if you have Smart Gear set up in your office and at home.

In addition to the visual reference of your smart home and an alternative way to control your gadgets when you do not want to speak, this redesigned app helps you organize your devices so they make sense.

Google's new focus on touch controls matches its latest listing in the Google Home lineup – the Google Home Hub . Also announced at the company's October event, the Hub retains the same wizard as the original Google Home and responds to all the same voice commands. It adds a touchscreen to the functionality of a smart speaker. When you scroll down the Home Hub, you'll see a similar Smart Home panel as in the new Google Home app .

  google-home-hub-2095 "data-original =" https://cnet3.cbsistatic.com/img/jlqkhGED71uZNqN1RdUQd2JI7JI=/620x0/2018/10/01/2f381c66-c128-4232-bd1e-4a241393fd28/google -home-hub-2095.jpg

The home screen of Google Home Hub.

James Martin / CNET

While the app simplifies the organization of your smart home, the Home Hub provides a central place for your family to control their devices with either their voice or a touch, if they prefer.

The hub's touchscreen also provides a visual reference that is useful in cooking and that looks like the steps and ingredients displayed on the screen. If you ask for the weather, you will see a visual overview of the forecast for the week. Search for restaurants, and the hub displays pictures and hours from nearby locations. It can even pull up a map and send directions to your phone. You can also use the screen to view pictures or watch videos on YouTube.


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The Google Home Hub is a nice little home control center


The Google Home Hub is part of a new category of devices called Smart Displays . Unlike Google Home, third-party smart displays equipped with Google Assistant have reached the market ahead of Google's own model. The Lenovo Smart Display and the JBL Link View were both built in partnership with Google. They have the same Google Assistant and almost the same functionality as the Google Home Hub. They did not start with a smart home control panel, but that will soon be available through an update for both devices. Also, LG and Sony have deployed Google Assistant-enabled Smart Displays .

You can make video calls on all three current smart displays. But unlike the Lenovo and JBL models, the Google Home Hub does not have a camera. The recipient of the video call can not see you. Google says the camera has been removed to make you feel better and put the hub in every room in your house. The Lenovo and JBL Smart Displays both have physical shutters that slide over their cams.

The Google Home Hub will be released on October 22nd. It costs $ 150 with a 7-inch screen and will be available from the same retailers as Google Home. The Lenovo Smart Display comes with a $ 250 US 10-inch screen or a $ 200 8-inch screen. The JBL Link View costs $ 250 and has an 8-inch screen. Lenovo and JBL smart displays are also widely used by major electronics retailers. LG and Sony have not yet announced the details of their upcoming smart displays.

Flies Up

Although Google has done an admirable job adding features to its line of smart speakers, the company also had problems with Google Home. Most importantly, perhaps Google has had difficulty reaching its main competitor – the Amazon Echo and the smaller Amazon Echo Dot in Sales .

  amazon-echo-lineup-14 "data-original =" https://cnet4.cbsistatic.com/img/y8jNS-eoLGFR4QpsCC8pGQrnJK4=/620x0/2018/02/09/f976028d-f77a-4113-98dc-bfcf1960796c /amazon-echo-lineup-14.jpg

The Echo Dot (right) is the headline of Amazon's impressive cast of intelligent speakers.

Ian Knighton / CNET

The growing competition between Google and Amazon for smart speakers is usually good for customers as companies try to outperform newer, better features. Recently, however, a feud occurred on YouTube . Amazon has discontinued the sale of some Google products on its website. Google responded by taking over the YouTube rights of Amazon's Smart Speaker with a display called Amazon Echo Show . Here are the remaining details of the dispute .

Google's launch of the Google Home Mini also got into trouble when a user discovered a bug that caused the Mini to keep recording instead of just after you said the Wake words. Google quickly resolved the problem, but it still posed privacy issues and confidence in Google's new, ever-listening assistants.

Finally, here is a list of surprising things that Google Home still can not do .

Learn More

After learning about the current status of Google Home, here is a brief overview of what happens next. At CES in January, we saw an increase in third-party devices with built-in Google Assistant, such as Alarm and Smoke Detector . We could soon see more third-party Google Assistant devices, since Google 2017 opened the Third-Party Developer Wizard and recently enabled the creation of custom commands . In fact, you can even build your own Google-enabled smart speaker with the company's speaker kit.

The coolest thing I can get out of I / O is quite experimental, but shows Google's goal to create a more human AI. Google Duplex can actually call restaurants and make reservations for you. Not only do I mean that it can dial in for you, the assistant will speak and pause and stutter like a human being. Watch Here . It's breathtaking. The computer now starts to roll out Google Pixel Phones to help you make on-screen calls for you. As Duplex evolves, your Google Home could become much more like a real human assistant.

  google-home-max-7059 "data-original =" https://cnet3.cbsistatic.com/img/X4t2KYoUeWw0vTGrqU-ZRF3Vsys=/620x0/2017/12/09/5c900a4e-1bce-4457-bbfc-b7f61b449f07 /google-home-max-7059.jpg

From left to right, Google Home, Home Mini, and Home Max are packed with features that only get smarter. [19659017] James Martin / CNET

For more than a year, the landscape of smart speakers has changed rapidly. We will keep this piece up to date as it moves on. Fortunately, you can now safely invest in a smart speaker. Google, Amazon, and Apple are all struggling for market dominance and new features, but the features are being sent as updates to existing devices, so you do not have to worry about your new assistant being left behind, at least now.

First published on April 27, 5:00 pm PT.
Update, October 16 at 12 pm: Information from the October Google event added.

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