The Google Home and Away routine logo.

Smart home devices are great when they work automatically without your input. It feels like the future we’ve seen in movies. Getting this to actually happen isn’t as easy it looks, though. That’s where Google Assistant’s Home & Away routines can help.

The Google Home app allows you to create different “routines” for performing multiple actions with a single Google Assistant command. These can be very helpful for turning off everything at bedtime, staying on task during the workday, and more.

The Home & Away Routines work differently, though. They’re triggered by your presence in your home. You can set up actions to run when you (or someone else) leaves and returns. These are super useful if you have several smart home devices in your home.

To get started, open the “Google Home” app on your iPhone, iPad, or Android device. If you haven’t yet set up a routine, tap “Set Up Home & Away Routines.”

Tap "Set Up Home & Away Routines."

You’ll see an introduction page that explains a little about what you can do with routines. Tap “Set Up” to begin.

Tap "Set Up."

The first thing you’ll be asked is if you have a Nest account. If you do, Google recommends you migrate it to a Google account. Tap “Yes” if you haven’t yet done that or “No” if you don’t have an account.

Tap "Yes" or "No" to proceed.

If you have a Nest account, you’ll be guided through the process of migrating your account to Google. If you don’t have a Nest account, you’ll go right to the Nest Terms of Service.

Now that that’s out of the way, we can start setting up routines. Each Home & Away routine has a tab with all of your connected devices underneath. Select a device you want to control when someone comes home or is away.

Select a device from the 'When Someone Comes Home" list.

There will be different actions available depending on what type of device it is. For example, a light or switch can be turned on or off. Keep devices at “No Change” if you don’t want to include them in a routine.

Select the action you want the device to perform.

When you’re done customizing the device actions for both Home & Away, tap “Next.”

Tap "Next."

Next, you’ll need to enable your phone to act as a presence sensor. Google uses device location and sensors to know if anyone in your household is home or away. Tap “Next” to proceed.

Tap "Next" in the presence sensing pop-up.

First, you’re asked to grant the Google Home app permission to access your device’s location. If you’re comfortable with that, tap “Agree.”

Tap "Agree" to grant location permission.

A prompt will also ask you to grant the app location permission. This might look different from the image below, depending on which device you’re using.

Grant location permission for Google Home.

You can also allow other devices to detect your presence, including Nest Thermostats, Protects, Detects, and Guards. If you don’t have any of these devices, though, just tap “Next.”

Tap "Next."

If you do have some additional presence sensing devices, you’ll see a list of them. Toggle-On the switch next to any you want to use, and then tap “Next.”

Tap "Next."

Finally, type your address, and then tap “Next.”

Type your home address, and then tap "Next."

A pin will mark the location of your home on a map. Drag and drop the pin exactly on your home, and then tap “Confirm.”

Tap "Confirm."

That’s it! Just tap “Finish” to complete the setup process.

Tap "Finish."

Other members of your household will have to grant the Google Home app permission to access the location of their phone if they want to be included in the presence sensing.

Home & Away Routines can be helpful if you have a lot of smart home gadgets—especially Nest devices. It’s also really nice to be greeted by all the lights coming on whenever you arrive home.

Profile Photo for Joe Fedewa Joe Fedewa
Joe Fedewa is a Staff Writer at How-To Geek. He has been covering consumer technology for over a decade and previously worked as Managing Editor at XDA-Developers. Joe loves all things technology and is also an avid DIYer at heart. He has written thousands of articles, hundreds of tutorials, and dozens of reviews.
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