The Google Home app is core to how you control and interact with dozens of different devices, so it's understandably one of Google's most feature-packed applications. It only got more interesting with version 2.28, as the new update hinted at the rebranding of Android TV, as well as adding some new features surrounding routines and home presence-sensing that were teased earlier this year. Now it seems like the new Home/Away routines powered by presence sensing are available to most users.
Some people will have taken to working from home better than others as we all adjust to the new normal, but it's always good to have a little helping hand. If you're struggling to stay on schedule with your work, or could just do with the occasional moral support, this latest Google Assistant routine feature could be just what you need.
In July, Google announced that smart home appliance makers would be able to publish Assistant routines featuring their own Actions and ones recommended from partner brands. Amazon seems to be raising that move with its own: user-shareable Alexa routines.
With smart home appliances, you can weave a series of commands together and have them triggered just by flipping a switch or having a sensor detect motion. Smart assistants and task apps have long been able to cook up recipes or routines, but it takes two to tango — those partners being the appliance makers that need to be able to get their products synced up and ready for a command. TP-Link is the latest OEM to allow for synced or so-called "Smart Actions" on its Kasa lines of lightbulbs, switches, plugs, and cameras.
When Google decided to deprecate its Works with Nest API, there was a litany of questions left behind of what would happen. Some of those answers came when third parties started sending notices to Nest product owners saying that their apps and routines would not work with their cameras, thermostats, and other appliances past August 31 (or earlier). At the same time, as Nest account holders begrudgingly move their roots to a Google account, there are questions as to if all the Works with Nest integrations will be carried over. Google has come back today with answers.
One of the Google Assistant's more annoying habits is that it usually tells you what it's doing even though you can see what it's doing. "Turning off the living room light" — I know, Google, I just asked you to and I can see it go off with my own eyes. Although it's still happening for individual actions, it doesn't seem to happen during routines any longer.
Google Assistant is kind of a mess on Chrome OS right now. It's still only officially available on the Pixelbook and Pixel Slate, and both devices have completely different implementations — the Pixelbook runs Assistant as an Android app, while the Pixel Slate has a native version (which will eventually come to the Pixelbook and other models). Apparently, the Slate version never supported Google Assistant routines, but that will soon be fixed.
Google Assistant routines can save you a lot of time by executing multiple commands in succession after you say a simple sentence. They started off as "My Day," which brought a simple morning routine, but then multiple routines were enabled, as were custom routines, and finally scheduled routines. But until recently, they were only officially available if you set your Assistant to use English (US). Now, they're supported in many more language/country combinations.
The Google Home app only gets an update around once a month, but that generally means that more changes are implemented each time. With version 2.8, a Routines button has been added to the home screen, and there's now a deep link to the Nest app in the Thermostat and Camera sections.