Google Home Features – New Functionality Detailed

Image of a Google Home device

Google Home is Google’s answer to Amazon’s Echo. It performs many of the same tasks such as a being able to set a timer or alarm hands-free. You can ask for the daily news headlines and weather reports; request it to stream music, answer obscure questions and tell you bad jokes. In my experience, Google Home features more accurate responses than Amazon’s Echo to the obscure questions and better timing with its punch lines — though my Amazon Echo was an older model and the newer models may be more intelligent and have better timing.

In addition to those services, one can also add items to a shopping list and buy items with Google Home. Amazon Echo promotes the ability to order any item from Amazon Prime using the Echo. Google Home routes its shopping service through its Google Express app, which is a boon for those who prefer ordering items online. The Google Express app gives you access to a wide range of stores — from Whole Foods and Costco to Petsmart and Sur la Table — rather than limiting you to a single source. For those who prefer shopping in person, as an android model, Google Home lets you do a workaround to make an alternative shopping list app your default.

As a smart device, Google Home pairs with other compatible devices. One example is the Philips Hue lightbulbs. If you pair the Hue lightbulbs with the Google Home, you can voice control your lights. I have three Hue bulbs in pendant lights in my kitchen. Those three lights are all on one switch but with Google, I am able to dictate whether I want all three on or any configuration of them. Hue bulbs are available that change colors and you can do that through Google Home. Some practical uses for lights that change colors: bright white for working; soft yellow for mood or relaxing; red for … well, dance parties? You can also program alarms to work off the lights so that when you want to be notified that it is a particular time [e.g. get ready for bed, go to work, etc.] the lights will flash at you or change colors.

A couple other devices that can be controlled by Google Home are the Nest thermostat and Netflix on Google’s Chromecast — who needs a remote these days?

Graphic of the Netflix service on Chromecast
Credit: Gizmodo

And stay tuned: in mid-May Google announced that Home users will be able to make outgoing calls soon. They are rolling the call capacity out over the next few months, so by the end of the summer hands-free phone calls will be a reality.