Loving It: Google Home

I’ve always thought that it would be pretty cool to have an assistant to help me with stuff.:

“Jacek, please clear my schedule for this afternoon.”
“Did anyone call while I was out?”
Get me somebody. Anybody. And get me someone while I’m waiting!”

Unfortunately I’m not (even close to) enough of a big shot to have earned an assistant–or to be able to afford one. In the meantime, I’ve got my new buddy, the Google Home.

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I had originally wanted the Google Home Mini, but after looking at both, my Dad opted to get me the full-sized Google Home… and I’m glad that he did! The sound is great (full disclosure here, though: I normally listen to music on my phone) and the mic is sensitive enough to pick up my voice commands from anywhere in my apartment. I was even able to turn down the volume by voice command from my shower, which was pretty impressive.

Setup is really easy, requiring just a few simple steps in the Home app on your phone. If you want to find out exactly what Google Home can do, the help within the app is really, well, helpful. After browsing a number of the articles, I was pretty impressed with everything it could do.

During setup, Google recognized my Chromecast immediately. Having both Home and Chromecast is really convenient, as I can just ask it to play a particular YouTube video or a movie on Netflix without having to lift a finger. Then, when I inevitably have a question about something I’m watching (often wondering how old someone is or what else they’ve been in), I can just ask Google without having to grab for my phone or computer.

My favourite feature is the ability to build a shopping list using voice commands. I can look through my cupboards and fridge and just ask Google to add items to my shopping list as I notice they’re needed. This will be helpful, too, when I run out of something; I can just ask it to add the item while I’m still cooking.

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My only complaint is that some basic functionality isn’t yet available. You might notice that I specified movies on Netflix–that’s because you can’t request a specific episode of a TV show; it instead automatically plays the next episode. That’s great when you’re working through a series, but less helpful when you’re rewatching a show and want a particular episode. Most bafflingly, Google Home doesn’t support Google Play Movies. I can’t understand why integration with their own products wouldn’t automatically be supported.

Still, despite those gaps, it’s a really useful product, particularly if you’re already firmly in the Google camp with things like Chromecast and Google Play Music (ahem, but not Google Play Movies, apparently).

Have you tried it? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

  1. You already know that Devo and I fell in love with the Google Home Mini. We received one for free when we purchased a Nest thermostat a few weeks ago. We had to return the thermostat (our system won’t work with it), but we kept the Google Home Mini because we couldn’t imagine going back. I thought it would be weird to talk to a machine, but it’s become pretty natural (“Hey Google, what’s the weather like today?” “Hey Google, set a timer for 20 minutes.”) We’re firmly in the Google camp (we have two Chromecasts in the house, three Android devices, and I have a Google Play Music subscription), and I love the integration. I didn’t realize that Google Play Movies aren’t integrated — that’s very strange! Hopefully they’ll get on that soon. The one downside in our house: my oldest daughter likes to ask Google to play her favourite song on repeat (which is currently “Timber” by Pit Bull….).

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