You just got a Google Home, and after unwrapping it and setting it up, you've asked about the weather, requested a few songs to play, and set a timer for 5 minutes to see how it rings. Now what?
I've been covering Google's smart speaker for more than a year now and I've owned a couple of Google Homes for about a year, yet I still feel like I'm not using them to their full potential. Every week brings new features and integrations that make it tough to remember all that can be done, so for those of you who don't know what to ask beyond playing music, those who are getting confused by hearing a different voice sometimes from the speaker, those who are always wondering why some actions work for them but not other members of their household, this is the most accurate tutorial I can write right now.
The list of supported smart home partners on Google Assistant and Home continues to grow and that growth even seems to be accelerating as time passes. Just last October, we reported on 65 direct partners being supported by Assistant and now if you go over to the Home Control section of your Google Home app or Assistant's settings, you can find that the number has jumped a little over 100. But that's not the entire story.
As we all know, smart home companies can integrate into Google Assistant/Home in one of two ways. One is directly through Home Control, which is easily recognizable by the fact that all the devices imported show up in a list, you can assign them to rooms, you can use regular voice commands to trigger them, and the same Assistant voice will answer you back.
About a week ago, the smart home devices support page of Google Home was updated to add a host of new features that we hadn't heard about until then. We reached out to Google to get some information and we finally have a few answers to share with you.
Google's Home line of products is compatible with over a thousand smart home devices now, which means that it can get a little confusing as to what's supported and what isn't. To alleviate this, Google has published a searchable list of all Home Control partners.
It feels like only yesterday that Google Home launched with support for a few select services. If memory serves me well, those were Nest, Hue, SmartThings, and IFTTT. It took a while for Home to add its next batch of services (Wink, WeMo, Honeywell), but oh how they grow up so fast! Suddenly, it was an onslaught of new partners and services and we could barely keep up.
If you use Google Home to control your smart home gadgets such as lights and thermostats, you'll probably be aware that you can assign them to different rooms in the house. That way you can turn multiple devices on or off with a single command, by saying "turn off the living room," for example. Until now, Google Home speakers themselves couldn't be added to a room, which didn't make any sense.
Yesterday we learned that Google Assistant is about to offer more capabilities on your phones and gain several smart and interesting features, but there's one other piece of interesting news: it's also now adding support for more smart home devices and appliances.
Google does weird things. Assistant for example has different capabilities if you use it on Google Home, in Google Allo, on the Google Pixel, or on Android Wear 2.0. Why? It's hard to explain and even harder to remember what is possible where, and more importantly, what is not possible.
For example, you could control your compatible smart home gadgets from Assistant on Google Home, but the functionality wasn't available on the Pixel. Last December, a small workaround showed up: if you already enabled Nest control on Google Home, you could issue the command on your Pixel and it would be interpreted correctly, but if you didn't have a Home already, Google would reply that it doesn't know how to do that yet.
Piper is a nifty little gadget that combines a number of recently deployed technologies to create a connected and hyper-aware home automation hub. The project has been getting a lot of press since it appeared on Indiegogo a couple of weeks ago, and it passed its $100,000 funding goal today. There's another twenty days before the project ends, so the creators won't be wanting for funds.
Piper is essentially is a little box that's stuffed with a ton of sensors and WiFi connectivity, making it the hub of a connected house. It functions as a security and monitoring tool first and foremost, thanks to a panning wide-angle webcam and microphone.
ADT's mobile home security offering, ADT Pulse, has been available for iPhone for some time now, but has recently made its debut on Android. ADT has released its Pulse Beta app into the Android Market, bringing highly sophisticated security controls to the palm of your hand.
ADT's Pulse Beta not only allows you to arm and disarm your ADT security system, but includes very impressive controls for lights, security cameras, and even thermostats. For those concerned with the security of having control of their home security system on their mobile, it is worth noting that the app requires users to log in before accessing any security features.