So you just bought Google Home, Google’s direct competitor with Amazon Echo and Amazon Alexa. It’s easy to make comparisons about the two, but that’s not what I’m here to talk about today. I’m here to tell you why Google Home is/was a great investment, what you can do as a new Google Home owner to improve your experience, and what works well with the device.
If you don’t own Google Home, or Amazon Echo already, by the end of this, I’m sure you’ll want one or the other in your house. If your Google Home is fresh out of the box or has been sitting somewhere in the house collecting dust, let me show you everything you can do with the little but amazing device.
Letting Google Home into Your Home
If your Google Home is already set and ready to go, skip this section and move onto the next one. This is where I’m going to cover your first time setup, so this is only relevant if you’ve either never setup the device, or feel like starting fresh with Google Home.
So let’s go over what your first few minutes with Google Home are like.
Tearing Open the Box
Barring any add-ons, you get the basic Google Home package for $129 at supported retailers, or directly from Google’s store. In the box, you get your Google Home device, a power adapter, and a helpful owner’s manual, which is all you need to get started.
As an added bonus, if you live in the US and set up your Google Home before February 27th, 2017, you get a free six months of Google Play Music. You activate the offer through the app which we’ll get to later.
Once everything is unpacked, plug your Google Home into its new home, and pull out your Android for this next step.
Downloading the Google Home App
If you have Chromecast, you probably already have this app, but if you don’t, please download it here:
Google Home Download
Aside from speaking, the Google Home app is going to be your main way of communicating with your new device. Using the app isn’t required to get Google Home to do basic tasks, but it is required to sync any supported smart devices you own.
Now that the app is setup, you’re more than halfway complete with your Google Home setup.
Connecting to Wi-Fi and Signing In
Next, the Google Home app will walk you through everything you need to do to connect your Google Home to your Wi-Fi, and where to go from there. You’re asked where your Google Home is in your house, and then promptly after to sign in to your Google account.
Once that’s done, you’re free to use your Google Home however you want! Since you’ve just setup your new device, let’s briefly look at what you can do with it.
Getting Friendly with OK Google
At any point, and if your Google Home is in range, just say “OK Google” like you would with your Android to start giving it commands.
These commands can be as simple as asking “OK Google, what time is it?” or something as complex as “OK Google, remind me about my dog’s birthday on March 24th, at 1:00 PM.” If you’re curious, she’s turning six this year, and still gets just as excited about anything that crosses her path as she did when she was one.
Commands don’t stop at questions and reminders either, once you pair a compatible device with Google Home, it’s launchable or controllable through your new smart device.
Is your living room television synced with Google Home? Say “OK Google, watch Stranger Things from Netflix on my Living Room TV” to start watching one of last year’s best shows without lifting a finger.
I won’t go into every last thing you can do with it here, but I will talk about what works with Google Home, and what doesn’t.
Learning What Works and Doesn’t Work
I’m only going touch on this briefly here since I’ll be talking about in the next section, but Google Home doesn’t work with every smart device. There’s a list of partners readily available, and I’ll be going over all of them below.
What’s Okay with OK Google
Like I mentioned above, Google Home doesn’t work with every smart device under the sun. However, what it lacks in quantity, it makes up for with quality. Where Amazon Echo has a larger range of devices it works with, it doesn’t give every device the same high-quality treatment.
Compatible Smart Home Services and Devices
So not every smart home device under the sun works with Google Home, but you’ll be happy to hear that anything from these manufacturers will work without a hitch.
- Philips hue
If you want to set up any of these products or start using IFTTT commands with them, the Google Home app will show you everything you need to know.
Compatible Music Services
Being able to play the music you want at a moment’s notice is extremely important, and Google Home works with five different services to make that a reality. You have a choice between:
- YouTube Music
- Google Play Music
With five different services, it’s hard not to find what you want to listen to with just a few words.
Compatible Streaming Devices and Services
Something I mentioned before was streaming Stranger Things on your TV without touching a button, and you can do that as long as your TV or screen is supported. You’re covered if you have a smart device from these brands:
- Bang & Olufsen
- Bo & Play
If you don’t have anything with these brands, you can still use Chromecast to stream to practically any screen in your house.
Google Home features full Chromecast support and functionality, and there are even Google Home packages that include Chromecast addons. I won’t go into everything Chromecast can do, but if you want to learn more, read about it here.
Related: The Best Chromecast Apps for Android
Task Managers and Games
Right out of the box, Google Home has Google Calendar, and Google Keep to make sure you never forget anything ever again and stay on task. If you want to know anything else about the two built-in services, just ask Google Home to tell you.
Aside from fun little commands here and there, Google Home comes with a Mad Libs game you can give a shot at any time. Ask Google Home about it if you have any questions, and don’t forget to refer to your owner’s manual if you ever feel lost.
That covers the basics of what every new Google Home owner should know, but I still haven’t gone over the tech that’s inside of the device, or what to do when that tech starts to fail. I’ll cover both as quickly as I can to make sure you’re informed about every aspect of your new Google Home.
If you still want to know more about Google Home’s features, Google would be happy to fill you in.
What’s Under the Hood of Google Home
Google Home is more than just a hub for all of your technology. Inside of its modern shell is a Hi-Fi speaker that sits inside of a customizable base, so don’t worry about needing to hook a Bluetooth speaker up to the little guy. Even without added help, Google Home is capable of providing rich sound throughout your house, or any other space you bring it into.
Google Home’s far field microphone lets it hear you from almost anywhere in the room, and it will only get better at understanding you the more you use it. If you’re worried about setting it off when you don’t want to, there’s a mute button on the front of the device. Pressing the mute microphone button ensures Google Home stops picking up sound.
On top of Google Home is a touchpad, which you won’t need most of the time, but has its uses that are outlined in the manual. Then focusing on the bottom again, it’s possible to twist off the base to reveal the speaker and another port. For the most part, the only reason why you’ll need to twist off the base is to replace it with another one.
That covers what’s inside the Home’s plastic shell, but just in case you run into any problems your owner’s manual can’t fix, let’s go over some known issues with Google Home.
Google Home Troubleshooting
With as much as Google Home can do, and as great as it is already, things will still go wrong from time to time. When your Google Home experience turns sour, you don’t have to sit idly by and hope the problem sorts itself out. Here are some common Google Home issues, and how to quickly fix them.
Don’t forget that there’s a Google Home support line to help you through any problems you might have.
Google Home Won’t Connect to Wi-Fi
This is by far the biggest possible issue, and the most damning one to have. If Google Home can’t connect to your network, it can’t connect to all of your different smart devices. Here’s what to try when you notice Google Home won’t connect:
- Unplug Google Home, and then wait a few minutes before plugging it back in again.
- Reset your router or modem.
- Connect Google Home to a different Wi-Fi network, and then your old network again.
- Move Google Home closer, or further away from your router.
- Disconnect other devices from your Wi-Fi to see if Google Home can now connect.
- Rename and change the password of your Wi-Fi connection before connecting again.
If you’ve established the problem is with Google Home and not your Wi-Fi connection, contact the retailer you bought Google Home from.
The Google Home App Keeps Crashing
Before you go any further, make sure your Google Home app is up to date by checking your downloaded apps in the Play Store. Any problems you’re running into may have been fixed already by a recent update.
If your app is up to date, close any resource heavy apps while using Google Home. If you’re still running into problems, go through our troubleshooting steps, and you’ll find what’s causing the problem.
The OK Google Command Makes Both Google Home and Android Respond at the Same Time
Since by default both Google Home and Android use the OK Google system, the command words will activate both devices if both are in range and active. The only way to prevent this from happening is to make sure the microphone of one or the other is turned off, or to use “Hey Google” or “Hi Google” to wake Google Home instead of “OK Google.”
It’s a very low-tech solution, but an effective one.
Google Home Won’t Respond
No matter if you’re saying “OK Google,” “Hey Google,” or “Hi Google,” Google Home just refuses to wake up and react. Before taking any drastic measures, tap the mute microphone button once or twice to see if it was accidentally turned off. If it still doesn’t respond, try the troubleshooting favorite of turning it off and on again.
If Google Home still doesn’t want to listen to you, move into a different part of the house. It’s possible there are noises or some kind of interference in the room that’s confusing the microphone.
Past that point, contact the retailer that you bought your Google Home from.
Google Home Won’t Communicate With X Device
If your device falls under any of the brands I mentioned above, it will work with Google Home. If you’re sure your device is a compatible brand, and it still isn’t working, you need to apply as many basic troubleshooting steps as you can to the problem. These are mostly intended for Android phones and tablets, but most of the rules still apply.
Unfortunately, most of the time this points to one of the devices involved being defective, which means you need to contact one of two support lines. You can either get in touch with Google directly or the line for the other device.
That’s all you need to know to start using your brand new Google Home. Adding devices to Google Home’s network is your next step, but since you know what’s compatible, and have the app in your hands, you’re already set. Google Home is a great way to help make your home a more convenient and smart place to live.
If you have any other questions about Google Home, please ask them down below, and we’ll answer them as soon as we can.