Google Home is one of my favorite gadgets, and spending a bit of time to learn some of its secrets has made it even more valuable to me and my family.
Google Home, if you're unfamiliar, is Google's version of the Amazon Echo and works in much the same manner. Speak a command and Google Assistant — the name isn't as appealing as Alexa — answers your query. It's kind of like a magic speaker that just sits on your bedside table, or in your living room, always ready for your beck and call.
If you own a Google Home, you can do so much more than ask the weather or how old George Washington was when he died (67). I'll walk you through five of my favorite Google Home tricks now.
If you have brownies in the oven for the next 20 minutes but also need to set another timer – maybe for the kid you just placed in time out — you can use Google Home to manage both. Simply say "Set a timer for 20 minutes," for your brownies, then follow with another. "Set a timer for 10 minutes for time out." As long as you provide specific names, you'll be able to keep adding on to the original timer.
Heading out to a Spanish restaurant and want to make sure you're ready to greet the host properly? ¡No problema! Google Home can help with that. Just ask Google Assistant to translate "Good evening, how are you?" to Spanish and you'll get the response right away. You can also query things like: "'How are you' in Spanish," or "how do I say 'how are you' in Spanish?"
Google Home has a leg up on the Amazon Echo here. You can use it to start movies and TV shows on your Chromecast-enabled TV. Simply say "Watch Family Guy on Living Room TV," for example, and the show will start playing. You'll need to make sure the TV is configured inside the Google Home app, first. Here's a simple guide on how to do that.
I tried this and immediately fell in love with the feature, though I admit it's awfully similar to functionality also available on the Amazon Echo. Google Home links up with some of Google's partners, allowing you to order household products like papertowels, soap and more. All you have to say is "Buy soap" or "Buy dog food," and the Google Assistant will walk you through available products and prices. Place an order and it'll arrive on your doorstep within the next couple of days.
We walked you through how to get a daily briefing on the Amazon Echo, and you can do the same with Google Home. Just say "Get the news," and Google Home will begin playing the latest headlines from CNBC, NPR, ESPN, BBC and more. You can manage news sources inside the Google Home app and easily change the order of which news sources play first.