As someone who works online on average eight to ten hours a day, Google Home and Amazon’s Echo are two game-changing gadgets that caught my attention. As a Virtual Assistant, the idea of having my own “Assistant” was intriguing, and I needed to know more about 2017’s hottest electronic. I spent a couple of hours watching YouTube videos and reading tech reviews comparing the Echo and Google Home.
I also interrogated my tech-savvy neighbour and received his glowing recommendation on the Google Home for the ability to control his Philips Hue lights, music, and heating for the house. He also loaded his house up with the Google Mini for surround sound and full household support. He laughed when he shared “My daughter’s first words will be OK Google”.
As a huge fan of Google myself, it seemed like the obvious choice for our family. The online reviews overall pointed out that Google Home could “do” more than the Echo and improvements are always being made. “OK Google, cook me dinner” “Sorry, I don’t know how to help with that yet”. Perhaps soon?
Here is a quick summary of what I have learned about my Google Home in the first 48 hours of setup:
First of all, it is so simple to setup and get started with an App on your phone. It has multi-user capabilities, and it remembers the unique preferences of the individuals in your household by voice. Wowzers!
Things I have learned that Google Home can do:
Set your name to whatever you want – I stuck with Tonya, but I will have more fun with this in the future
Check transit times
Check sport scores
Play music using Spotify or Google Play (subscriptions needed)
Pause and resume music and podcasts
Play music, meditation music or sleep music for “X” amount of time (good for nighttime)
Play nature sounds
Ask for a joke
Ask for “X” animal sound
Ask math questions
Check stocks and currencies
Check your schedule for the day
Control your heat with Nest
Control your lights with Philips Hue light bulbs or similar
Add items to grocery lists
Add tasks to Google Keep
Ask Google to remember things for you
Call your phone to find it “OK Google. Find my phone” followed by your phone ringing
Step by step instructions for recipes when cooking or baking
Ask it to talk dirty
Send text and emails
Ask “What does the Fox say?”
Control your TV via ChromeCast
Ask it how to say things in different languages
Set a morning routine using IFTTT APP and say “Good Morning Google” to turn on lights, heat and music for example (same for Good Night Google).
What I don’t love so far:
- You have to say “Hey Google” A LOT! You can’t ask consecutive questions. You always have to say “OK GOOGLE” first. This becomes annoying for anyone in the room who is not asking the questions. A bit like when someone is practising an instrument. Only fun for the player
- You can’t change the name or how you address it only “OK Google” or “Hey, Google”. I wish I could name it like you name a pet – Hey Rex!
- Only a few different voices to choose from – would love if you could have Darth Vader or Sean Conery. I am sure this will be a feature soon
- Sometimes when I talk to my Google Home, the Google Assistant on my phone gets activated
- Sometimes when I talk to my Google Assistant on my phone, Google Home gets activated
- When music is playing, Google Home has trouble hearing me so I start shouting so it will turn off – annoying
- Sometimes the music is loud and Google Home can’t hear me so I need to get up and turn it off – extra annoying
- It can be glitchy in that the music occasional stops and starts
- Sometimes it doesn’t know how to help me even though it has helped me with the same task before
- It sometimes thinks I am asking for music or a show when I am asking a question
- Most recently it didn’t stop playing music and I had to unplug it
- It does not seem to do much more than what my phone, TV and Spotify account can do individually and with more effort – it just is the one place to do it all
- It needs to be plugged in for power – why isn’t there a docking system that I can take it off and move it around the house in the room I need like the bedroom and kitchen?
- I think it’s weird that it’s designed as an air freshener looking gadget when there are much more fun ways it could have been designed.
I can’t tell if this is going to be an essential system for my sanity and productivity or if this will be a novelty product that makes me lazier until something bigger and better comes along. Only time will tell. I believe that Google Home is still a baby and as more companies start producing products to sync with it then it has the potential to become the next extension of ourselves, much like the mobile phone.
The real mystery,“Is the Google Home always listening?”. To be continued…
What are your favourite Google Home features?