So you scored a Google Home for Christmas. That’s awesome because this is a killer little smart speaker that can do a lot of different things—in fact, it can be a little overwhelming. The good news is that we’ve got you covered. Here are some ideas on where to get started with your new Home.
Set Up Your New Google Home
First things first: you have to set that bad boy up because it’s basically useless in the box. But before we get into that, I want to take a quick minute to address something that is constantly on users’ minds when they get an always-listening device like Google Home: it’s not spying on everything you say. It only listens for the hotword (“OK Google” or “Hey Google”), but that’s it. Nothing is recorded or transmitted back to Google until it hears those words. I promise.
Launch it and run through the tutorial—it’s all pretty straightforward. Once the phone finds the new Home, it will let you know. If it finds other devices (like smart lights or plugs), it will show those, too. Select your new Home device and hit “Next.” It’ll then play a sound on your new Home to make sure it’s connected to the right one and you’ll confirm.
From there, you’ll establish a room and connect the Home to Wi-Fi. After it’s all connected, you’ll sign in to your Google account—assuming you’ve set up Google Assistant on your phone, your voice settings will automatically be imported. That’s cool.
If this is the first time you’re setting up Google Assistant, you’ll be able to teach it to recognize your voice. If you’ve already set it up on another device, it can pull the voice model from there for you.
Next, the Google Home app will detect if you have certain music apps installed and offer to set them up for you. Here, it discovered I use Spotify. It will then offer to set up video services for you.
Finally, you’ll get a chance to set the location where the Home will be used, review all your settings, and run through a quick tutorial on how to use Home.
With all the simple stuff out of the way, you’re ready to really start using your new Google Home.
Add Another Account
If you plan on sharing your Home with someone else in the house (or multiple people, even), you’ll want to add everyone else’s Google account. Why? Because the Google Assistant will be able to differentiate people by their voices, therefore offering personalized results.
For example, if I tell my Google Home to add an event to my calendar, it will match my voice to my account and add it only to my personal calendar, not my wife’s. It works the same way for her.
To add a second (or third, fourth, etc.) account to an existing Google Home, the person who you’d like to add will need to install the Home app on their phone. When they launch it and sign in, it will look for new devices and you can just follow the setup routine.
You can also add new Home Members from your Home app by heading into Settings, clicking the “Household” option, and then clicking the plus button at the top right. You can then choose from your contacts or type a gmail address manually.
For a more detailed look at how to add accounts to your Google Home, check out this post.
Get the Tunes Flowing
I mean, Google Home is a speaker, so using it for music is a pretty good thing to do with it. There are a couple of ways to get your tunes rolling with Home:
Cool, right? Yeah. But if you took the time to add multiple accounts to your Home like outlined above, there are a couple of things you’ll want to take a look at.
First off, every account can set their own preference for music service—Google Play Music, Pandora, YouTube Music, and Spotify are all supported, though you can only use one at a time. It’s a weird quirk, but alas, there’s nothing you can do.
To change your music preferences, open the Google Home app and hit the “Settings” button. On the Settings page, scroll down a bit and tap the “Music” option.
You’ll see a list of your music services, as well as other available options.
But let’s say you have a premium Spotify account and your significant other doesn’t. You can actually let him/her use your account by choosing the last option here: “No Default.” This will automatically default all music playing to the other person’s settings. We have more information on how that works right here.
Set Up Your Smarthome
Aside from being a speaker that you can talk to, Google Home is basically the hub of your entire smarthome. If you have other smart devices—like Philips Hue lighting, Nest thermostats or cameras, and the like—then you’ll want to set those up in Google Home. You can even add Chromecast and Android TV to your home for easy control using your voice.
If you pop open the Home app, the main screen is a dashboard showing your rooms, routines, Google Home devices, and other smarthome devices you’ve set up. To add a new device, home member, speaker group, or even a new home, all you have to do is hit the “Add” button and then choose what you want to add.
Just follow the instructions to set your stuff up, and if you hit any snags along the way, check out our primer on setting up your smarthome with Google Home.
Make Phone Calls with Google Home
Your Google Home can also double as a pretty legit speakerphone—and it can do so without you ever having to touch your actual phone. Just say “Hey Google, call <person or place>” and poof: like magic, it’ll initiate a call.
It’s also rad because you can set it to use an anonymous number, your Google Voice number (if you have one), or even your personal phone number. All of these things can be set in the Google Home app under More Settings > Calls on Speakers.
For detailed set up instructions, check out our post.
Get Cooking Instructions, Buy Things, and All Sorts of Other Stuff
My “main” Google Home is in the kitchen because that’s where I find it to be the most useful. Cleaning up? Play some music. Baking something? Set a timer (you can also change the volume of the timer alarm). Cooking? Get step by step instructions without ever having to touch your phone. Seriously, that’s a game changer.
Getting recipes is super easy to do, too: search for what you want, then send it to Google Home. We actually have a full tutorial on how to get rolling, so if you’re into more granular instructions, give that a peep.
But wait, there’s more! You can also tell your Google Home to buy stuff for you, and it will. It does this using Google Express, but you’ll also have to set your shipping and payment preferences up in the Google Home app. Detailed instructions can be found here if you want a closer look at how it all works.
Of course, since your Google Home is basically just Google Assistant in a speaker, you can also do all of the cool stuff you do with Assistant on your phone, like ask it questions, get a daily briefing, keep a shopping list, and a lot more.
If there’s a function you want and can’t seem to find, you can also set up custom commands using Android and Tasker. It’s not the simplest setup, but the given the time and patience, you can make it happen. Find out how by going here.
Google Home is crazy-powerful, and its functionality is expanding every day. The voice controls is very natural, and the more you use it, the more you’ll find you can do with it.