14 Google Home Hacks to Help You Live Your Best Life

There is so much that virtual assistants like Google Home can do and so many operations it can be integrated with. In fact, there are already more than a million tasks you can accomplish using a Home device and a bevy of commands. But what are some of the most useful Google Home hacks and tasks your assistant can do on a daily basis to help you live your best life?

1. Watch videos and TV shows

If you have a Google Home and a Google Chromecast hooked to your TV on the same Wi-Fi network, you can ask your Home to play whatever you want to watch. A number of streaming services are native to Google Home that work with your subscriptions to Netflix, HBO Go, WatchESPN, Hulu and more. Just put together a long-string command like “Hey Google, watch the second scene of episode four of ‘Master of None’ on Netflix in my living room,” and boom, Aziz Ansari is on your television.

This works great for YouTube, as well. Want cat videos in your life? Ask Google Home to play some and Sunday afternoon made.

2. Run your smart devices

In addition to your TV, you can use Google Home to run hundreds of other smart devices that connect seamlessly to your network including fridges and kitchen appliances, lights, locks, slow cookers, coffee makers, sprinklers, garage door openers, smoke alarms, security systems, Nest thermostats, Ring doorbells and iRobot Roombas.

Certain automobile manufacturers have built-in technology that connects your car directly to your network. When you get up on a chilly morning, all you have to do is say, “Hey Google, start my car!” to get your vehicle warmed up and ready for you. This is also available as an aftermarket feature.

3. Set an alarm

No need to fumble with your phone’s clock app to set an alarm to get up in the morning. Just say, “Hey Google, set an alarm for 7 a.m.,” and a pleasant tone will gently wake you for the day.

It’s also great for when you’re cooking or as a reminder. Ask Google to set an alarm for 20 minutes, and you’ll be notified when your soufflé is done or when the hockey game is about to start.

4. Get the news, weather and traffic

While you’re making coffee or brushing your teeth in the morning, Google Home can get you ready for the day by reading you the day’s news. On the Google Home app, you can choose your news sources from CNN to the BBC and categories like Business, Technology or Science, and then just say “Hey Google, what’s the news?” and you’ll get the top stories podcast-style.

And before you walk out the door, Home will give you the weather forecast in any format you wish. Your Home will understand questions like “What’s the weather today?” “What’s the temperature in Wichita on Sunday?” or “When will it rain?”

Need to know what the commute looks like as you head out to work or the airport? Ask Home how long it will take to get to your destination with live traffic, then have it send directions right to your phone.

5. Play music and audio

listening to music

Thanks to built-in apps, your Google Home can play just about any music you want. Ask it to play some folk rock and your device will play a Spotify mix based on your request. Want to hear music based on an artist you like? Just say, “Hey Google, play Grouplove on Pandora,” and you’ll get a Pandora station of artists similar to your choice.

If you have a radio station you love, Home can play that, too, through its TuneIn Radio app. Ask for the station or stream’s name like, “Hey Google, play WXPN” or “Hey Google, play Dublab.” Love podcasts? Do the same with them by asking Google to play the latest episode of your fave pod.

And if you want a bigger sound, just tell Google to play the music through your HDT V or connected smart speakers.

6. Make phone calls

Even some of the heaviest Google Home users don’t know you can make phone calls right through your speaker. Ask Home to make a phone call to a specific person or number, and you’re ringing them up.

Just be aware that since you’re making a VoIP call over the internet, your cell phone number won’t show up for the person on the other end unless they’ve added your Google IP number to their contacts or you’ve set up your Home’s Caller ID.

7. Make a shopping list

If you’re in your kitchen making dinner or packing your lunch and run out of an item, simply have your Home add it to your Google Shopping list. As you munch on that last stick of string cheese, just say, “Hey Google, add string cheese to my shopping list.” Then, next time you’re at the store, open your shopping list on your Google app and you’ll know exactly what to pick up.

8. Run a routine

A convenient and underutilized function of Google Home is running a routine. Routines are a series of instructions Google Home can run based on a time of day or one command.

Set up a morning routine on your Home app, then every weekday at 7 a.m. your Home will play your alarm, start your smart coffee maker, tell you today’s weather, read you your schedule and tune your TV to “Good Morning America,” or whatever commands you wish.

Tell it, “Hey Google, it’s dinnertime,” and your Home will notify everyone in the family to come to the table, pause the Wi-Fi, turn down your smart lights and play your family meal playlist on Spotify.

9. Broadcast messages

on air sign

Even though having a smart speaker in your home is a fairly new phenomenon, it’s already commonplace for people to have more than one throughout the house. Some folks have one in the living room, one in the kitchen, one in the bedroom and maybe even one on the porch or deck. But when all your multiple Google Homes are on the same Wi-Fi network, they become interconnected and can function as a “broadcast.”

Want to transmit a message to everyone in your home? Just say something like, “Broadcast that the movie is starting,” “Tell everyone I’m home” or “Announce that dinner’s ready,” and your Google Home will shout it from the rooftop. Or at least from every Home you own.

You don’t even have to be at your house, either. You can use your phone’s Google Assistant to broadcast to the Home in your house from anywhere, so you can tell everyone you’re on your way or just say “Hi” to the cat.

10. Remember anything

Gone are the days of Post-it Notes and scrounging around for a pen. Your Google Home will remember anything for you. Always losing your keys? When you put them down, say, “Hey Google, remember that I put my spare keys in the porcelain pig.” When you need to find them next time, just ask, “Hey Google, where are my spare keys?” and you’ll be directed to the aforementioned porcine.

There are unlimited applications for the remember feature. Ask Google to remember the combination to your bike lock, where you hid the kids’ Christmas presents or how much nutmeg goes in your grandma’s apple pie recipe, and the answer will be on the tip of your tongue whenever you need it.

11. Find your phone

Boy, we’re a forgetful bunch. What did we do before Google Home? If you’re always losing track of your phone, Google can help you locate it. Instead of digging through the couch cushions, simply inquire, “Hey Google, where’s my phone?” and the Home detective is on the case.

Your device will give you the choice of sending a pleasant alarm to your phone or calling it. This function even works if your phone is on silent or do-not-disturb and even with multiple phones on the account. Once you find your phone, simply press the power button to let Google know you’re good to go.

12. Get recommendations

It’s dinnertime, and you and your spouse or roommate want to find somewhere to eat. Your Google Home can help with that. Just figure out what you’re looking for, and Google will give you some great recommendations. You can ask it nearly any combination of variables and you’ll get a quick list of places to eat, from “What are the best pizza places near me?” to “Tell me the most popular cheesesteak shops in Philadelphia” to “Where can I get a beer?”

And once you pick one from the list, your Home will give you the Google review rating, tell you the address and send directions to your phone. Need to make reservations? Ask Google to call the restaurant and you’ll be on the line in a jiffy.

13. Check your schedule

to do list

Photo by Emma Matthews on Unsplash

What’s more important in an assistant than keeping track of your schedule? Your Google Home happens to be great at it. Google Home dips right into your Google Calendar, as well as any other connected calendar, to stay up to date on all your upcoming activities.

As you’re heading out the door, you can query, “Hey Google, what’s my schedule today?” Or, if your day is a little hectic, you can ask it, “When is my next appointment?” And if you’re trying to see what your future looks like, simply say, “What am I doing next week?”

Need to add a last-minute meeting while you’re getting dressed? You can schedule a calendar event through your Home, too. Tell it, “Add a meeting with Julie on Thursday at 3:30 p.m. to my calendar,” and boom, there it is.

14. Find Easter Eggs

There are a lot of little fun commands the folks at Google (with some assistance from Pixar and The Onion) have hidden for you to find. Here are some of the best Easter Eggs for you to play with:

  • If you say, “Hey Google, beatbox”, she’ll sling a sick groove.
  • “Hey Google, sing a song” will trigger your Assistant to really, really badly sing a song.
  • A command to “Read a poem” will play a random poem from a Google search.
  • If you dare, request, “Hey Google, tell me a joke,” but be prepared to roll your eyes.
  • And finally, try, “Hey Google, up, up, down, down, left, right, B, A”. Trust us.

Did we forget something? Tell us about your favorite Google Home easter egg or secret command in our comments!

Banner Photo by BENCE BOROS on Unsplash
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Michael HochmanMichael is a Philadelphia-based writer with a variety of interests, including music, TV, politics, travel, and sports (Fly Eagles Fly!). His background includes a decade as a programming executive in network television, six years as a marketing executive at a technology company, and time at two magazines and two advertising agencies. He also sits on the board of a non-profit law firm that assists veterans with disabilities. Michael is a proud Syracuse grad (Newhouse) who has lived in Kansas, Chicago, Saratoga and beyond.

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