During its Pixel event, Google teased a slightly redesigned Google Home app with a new Nest Aware feed. We've been waiting for it to roll out to our devices and now it has as part of v2.15 of the Home app. Along with it we're getting the new Cast media UI that was leaked several weeks ago.
At first glance, you may not notice the differences between the new Home app and the older one. Things look almost the same, but the underlying changes make for a much more streamlined app and way less confusion about settings.
On the upper part, the Add button has moved from the circles to the top left, clearing some needed space. A few icons (Broadcast, Routines, Settings) have been redesigned with a wireframe look, and if you're lucky, you may see a new Media button instead of the old pointless Play. We'll get to that in a bit.
Left: Old UI, available with Google Home 2.6 onward. Right: New Google Home 2.15.
On the bottom, the four tabs have been collapsed into two: Home and Discover. The Media tab is gone — it was near useless anyway — and the Account tab has been transformed into a Google account switcher on the top right, similar to most other Google apps. Discover cards also don a new look with colorful backgrounds.
Left: Old Discover. Right: New Discover.
New Cast media cards
Some of us with the new Home app also received the new Media button I mentioned above — this aspect seems to be a server-side test, so you may have the new app without getting this media UI. It replaces the Play button with large cards for any media being cast on your devices. Music cards have album art with a large blurry background, playback and volume controls, a scrubber, and the speaker(s) name below that.
Left: Media playback card accessed by tapping on a speaker (still available in the app). Right: New card accessed by tapping the Media button at the top of the app.
If you're casting different media on different speakers, you'll see several swipeable cards. These also include videos being played on nearby Chromecasts, Android TVs, or Smart Displays.
Tapping on the Cast speaker icon reveals a new screen where you can quickly move the media to another speaker or TV or group. It's the missing aspect of this transferring streams feature that Google recently announced — you could ask for it by voice, but there was no on-screen way to do it until now.
Left: New media card also works with videos. Right: Transferring stream to another speaker.
Event history and notifications
The current home's Settings (accessible from the last round icon on the app's main page) contain the home's name, address, members, rooms and devices, a few quick links to some Assistant services settings, and two additions: Notification settings and Home history.
The former simply lets you get notified when people or devices are added to or removed from the home or when there are product updates or offers. The latter seems to be where Nest's new home recap events will show up. I don't have a Nest cam to see this, but the "No recorded events" wording is telling enough. This history should also be quickly accessible as a card from the app's main Discover tab when new events are detected.
Left: Notifications for a home. Right: Home event history.
Finally, the account switcher has been updated and no longer shows a bunch of unnecessary options. Only two menus for the Home app's settings and checking your activity remain.
Left: Old account settings. Middle: New account switcher. Right: Home app settings.
Overall, this is a very positive change for the Home app. If you had taken the time to delve into the previous version, you'd have noticed there were duplicated settings and menus everywhere, lots of overlapping options with Assistant, and at least two or three ways to get to your music and video services. Most of it didn't make sense and even though I used and covered the app for an entire year, I still had to dig a few times to get to an item I just couldn't easily find.
The new interface manages to add a few more features while still being better organized, with only the necessary options and no overlap with Assistant. It finally makes sense.
Google Home v2.15 is currently rolling out on the Play Store. We don't have it yet on APK Mirror, but we'll let you know once it's available for download.
When we first covered the new Google Home app, we missed one aspect of the top right account switcher: you can now use a swipe gesture (up-down or down-up) to quickly move between accounts. It's the same gesture we've seen with Google Keep, Gmail, Contacts, Drive, and Maps. Thanks, Samarth Verma!
- Nick Cipriani,
- João Paulo,