Google Home has only ever allowed for a rudimentary all-or-nothing approach when it comes to managing household members. You can either grant someone full access to your smart home devices or none at all. Based on recent UI tweaks, Google is looking to change that and might introduce tiers of different access levels soon.
Smart plugs are a great way to make simple electronics more intelligent — be it an old lamp with a non-removable light bulb, an older TV, or a coffee maker. However, outlets can't tell what's plugged into them, so any smart plug just got a generic logo in the Home app. That changed when Google started automatically adjusting the symbol depending on what you call the device — e.g., "desk light" will give you a light bulb icon.
The Google Home app has become this awkward monolithic thing over the years, expanding with more options, settings, and duties as Google's smart home ecosystem has grown. It can be pretty hard to find what you need without some sort of degree in Googleology — or at least some extensive searching. But an update that's now widely rolling out makes navigating through your home's settings a little easier.
Google Home received an overhaul last year that reduced its number of bottom tabs from four to two — only home control and a feed remain. The latter hasn't been populated by too much content, but a recent update to version 2.19 changes that, at least if you own Nest security devices. The feed now shows you Nest Cam events in the form of highlights and makes the whole history available for viewing. The update also gives smart outlets icons that better depict which devices they're controlling.
When casting music, movies, series, or videos to a speaker or TV, the Google Home app conveniently lets you control it, even if you used another device to initiate playback. Although the interface was handy, it wasn't visual enough. Thankfully, Google is seemingly working on a revamped one for cast media control.
The Google Home got an update today with no immediately discernible changes to the UI. But as usual, there are some other interesting changes that speak to what we'll see happening in the future. Google is preparing the interface for users to migrate their Nest accounts to Google for improved security, there will be support for Internet radio, and it looks like a lightweight bottom navigation bar is in development.
If you still haven't purchased a smart speaker or want to get an extra one, today's your lucky day, as Rakuten is running an offer that lets you get the Google Home Mini for just $20. This is even cheaper than the ongoing deal for $25 apiece, thanks to an additional 20% off.
Smart speakers add a layer of convenience to a household, but have you ever thought of them as planting a mole into your own living room? Back in April, Amazon admitted its employees reviewed anonymized recordings in order to improve its speech recognition system. Now a fresh controversy has emerged around Google and its Assistant, where the company confirms doing the very same — but there's still no need to worry.
Although Google's smart home devices have been going on sale several times in the past, the company is currently discounting almost the entire Home range, including the Nest Hub smart display. This is a great opportunity to get an extra intelligent device in your household, or even to buy your first one if you don't have one already.