In the battle for home automation, Amazon Echo may have gotten a head start, but Google Home is catching up fast. Google announced on Thursday that its smart speakers and smart Assistant can now control over 5,000 devices (up from 1,500 at the start of the year) from every major brand.
That’s a lot to unpack, but most of it is just the same old smart lights and voice-controlled thermostats. Here’s a quick look at some of the most interesting and useful new ways to control your smart home with Google Home.
Change the TV channel without lifting a finger
If you already use Chromecast or Android TV, this is nothing new, but for the rest of us, using Google Assistant to control your television is a couch potato’s dream. To help, Google is adding support for DISH Hopper set-top boxes to Home, so you can change the channel by simply saying “Hey Google, play CNN on the Hopper.” Alas, “Hey Google, why do I still watch the Cleveland Browns” won’t automatically pull up ESPN, but one can dream.
Google is also making it a little easier to control your Logitech Harmony setup with Assistant. You no longer need to start every voice command with “talk to Logitech.” Instead, just say, “Hey Google, play channel 1,” and you’re there. Milliseconds: saved.
Check the front door from your phone
There are plenty of smart doorbell devices that stick an internet-connected camera to the front of your door, but actually checking the feed can mean navigating through random third-party apps. Now, Google is making it a lot easier to see who’s knocking.
If you have a Nest Hello doorbell, you’ll receive an alert from Google Assistant whenever someone rings it. From there, you can quickly jump to a live camera view. This integration is limited to Google’s own Nest products for now, but the company says it’s coming to other models later this year.
Make Your Lights Smart for Cheap
Swapping out all the old-school bulbs in your house for new smart lights is a lot of fun, but it’s also a pricey upgrade. Thankfully, Google Home now supports one of the cheapest options on the market. Go ahead an pick up a few of IKEA’s Trådfri smart bulbs (however you say that word) without worrying that you won’t have enough money left over to pay the electricity bill.
More Google Home Tips and Tricks
If you’re looking for even ways way to get the most out of Google Home, try setting up a music alarm instead of waking up each morning to annoying beeps. You can even go all out and build a high-tech Google Home jukebox like one person did.