For our anniversary, Michael bought me a Google Home for our house. I’ve been fascinated with all of the potential capabilities that this can do, so I was excited to try it out.
The reason we got a Google home instead of an Amazon echo was because I am a Google nerd. Almost all of my life is organized digitally by some google extension. I have a Google calendar, Gmail, even a Google drive where I keep documents I might need to access from my phone (while still having it on my computer). Plus, we use Netflix and Hulu, and we knew that Chromecast supported these two apps, so we wanted to try it all.
Of course, I bought a Chromecast right after setting up the Google Home so that we could try more things that the home was capable of. We hooked up the Chromecast to our TV and we have the Google Home in our living room.
I love waking up in the morning, walking down the stairs and saying, “Hey Google, good morning.” Google Home responds with the time, weather, the first appointment on my schedule, and then gives me a brief synopsis of the news from various outlets (that I can pick from my phone app).
While I’m cleaning, I can ask Google Home to play a Cleaning The House playlist, which it does straight from YouTube, Google Play, or Spotify (which I have to designate only one of those that Google Home will pull from on my phone app). I can pause or stop the music from my phone or by simply asking, “Hey Google, stop”. I can also adjust the volume of the Google Home if I need to by simply asking it (Turn up 75% or Turn down to 50%)
If I want to watch a movie from Netflix or the latest episode from one of my favorite YouTube channels. I can ask Google Home to play it on the TV. I can also control skipping ahead in videos and shows, jumping back a few minutes if I missed something, or even going to the next episode. Eventually, I want to be able to play music in different parts of the house and purchase the light bulbs that will allow me to turn on and off lights in different rooms.
The quality of the Google Home is superb. I can be walking in from the garage and start talking to Google Home immediately, and it picks up my voice. And the speakers are so clear and incredible. 100% volume is loud enough for the whole downstairs (although we have an open floor plan but it’s still pretty nice).
I’ve also enjoyed adding things to a shopping list on my phone, which comes in handy when I’m checking household cleaner inventory or checking the pantry for recipe ingredients before I head to the grocery store. I can also get commute information, like how long it will take to get somewhere and the best route. It also has games like Mad Libs and Trivia already built in.
While Google Home can read my schedule, it can only read it from the main calendar on my Google calendar attached to the account I set up. So if I have an appointment on another calendar, it won’t pick it up. This was surprising to me since I would think Google would have a leg up on this function. Apparently, Amazon Echo is able to read all of the calendar schedules and add to the schedule if needed. But Google Home just got out on the market, so I’m assuming this will be remedied in an upcoming update, still I’m surprised it wasn’t included in the launch.
All of the music that is played on the Google Home, I think is actually coming from my phone. I’ve noticed that if I use YouTube Red (which you get a free trial with Google Home), all of the songs show up on my history of my channel, which can affect the recommendations I get on my home page on YouTube. Of course, I can always use Spotify or Google Play as well, but if I want to hear a particular song by a particular artist, I have to use YouTube Red. But sometimes it overloads the YouTube app. But this is minor.
The biggest frustration is that I learned I can’t use Hulu through Google Home, although I can broadcast Hulu from my laptop, phone or tablet. Also, I can’t browse YouTube or Netflix using Chromecast. While it’s nice to ask Google Home to play a TV show, movie, or YouTube video, I have to be exact with what the name of that show, movie or video is. If I wanted to play the latest Phil Defranco show on YouTube, I have to ask for it specifically by channel name, and I don’t always get it right.
And while I can add items to a shopping list, it’s only one particular list on my phone. I can’t add sugar to Grocery List and then add Windex to Walmart List. It all goes into the Google Assistant List. And I’ve noticed a lot of little things that it can’t do yet, like tell me what’s on TV tonight or send the commute directions information to my phone. My Google assistant on my phone is still more helpful in these situations, but I’m hoping that the two will someday merge. Especially since Google Home already relies on my phone for YouTube and music anyway.
Google Home is still pretty new on the market, but I was surprised about the things not included in the launch. I can definitely see the potential that it has, though, and I think of it as an investment. Google already has so many capabilities, so I know that it’s going to grow by leaps and bounds over the next couple of years. I mean, it only added Netflix last November, so I’m sure it has a lot of growing left to do. So for now, I am having fun with it. And I’m excited to see what else it will be able to do, soon.