As much as I’d like to say Google Home is the perfect personal assistant and a flawless smart hub; it can’t do everything on its own. It’s easy to ask Google Home to do whatever you want, but unless you know a few workarounds, it won’t always be able to help. There are even workarounds to get Google Home to work with unsupported devices.
Related: A Beginner’s Guide to Amazon Echo
If you’re a new Google Home owner, are looking to switch from Amazon Echo, or are just deciding between the two; this information is for you. None of these will make you tear your Google Home apart to install something new or force you to reprogram it. All you’ll need is time and a few separate apps.
Using IFTTT to Expand Google Home’s Range and Capabilities
We’ve talked about using IFTTT to help automate your home before, and everything I mention here is pretty similar to that. We’ve discussed IFTTT in full here, and even how to set it up on your Android. IFTTT’s range doesn’t end there, it has plenty of applets and commands for your Google Home assistant.
IFTTT sounds a little daunting at first, but with it, adding new commands to Google Home is much easier. Take a look at some of the things you can do when you start using IFTTT in conjunction with Google Home.
1. Send Skype Messages
This won’t be something that every Google Home owner is itching to get their hands on, but I think it’s an applet that’s helpful for at least enough to mention it. It’s as easy as saying “OK Google, Skype” and then your message, but I’d test it out a little bit before you send a message to the wrong contact.
2. Turn On or Turn Off Lights
While Google Home works with a few different smart lights, it doesn’t work with all of them right out of the box. For systems like SmartThings, or LIFX, you need the help of IFTTT to control your lights.
For example, using this applet lets you turn off a SmartThings light with a simple voice command. For LIFX lights, all you need to do is say “OK Google, goodnight” with this applet to turn off your lights.
For more applets for different lighting systems, even Philips Hue which is already supported, look at the full Google Assistant list.
3. Post Tweets
If you want to post a quick tweet while you’re busy doing something else, it’s easy to do it with your voice on Google Home. Download this applet, flip the IFTTT switch, and then just say “OK Google, tweet [blank]” to tweet anything you want with just your voice.
4. Post to Facebook
Posting to Facebook almost works exactly the same way as tweeting or using Skype with this applet. To post a quick status message, say “OK Google, tell my friends [blank]” to let your Facebook friends know anything on your mind, or what you’re doing.
5. Create New Google Contacts
There are a few things you can do with your contacts on Google Home, and with this new applet, it’s easy to add new contacts with just your voice. Just tell Google Home their name and number, and you’ll be good to go.
6. Help Configure Google Calendar
It’s crazy to think that you can’t set dates on your Calendar right out of the box with Google Home, but it’s possible with this applet.
The phrasing sounds a little awkward at first, but it’s easy to change so you can use it to set dates and schedule events on your Google Calendar with just your voice.
7. Give Your Android a Ring
There are plenty of times where I wish I could just call out to my phone and get it to tell me where it is, and with this applet, that’s possible with Google Home. Saying “OK Google, find my phone” is a nice workaround to a feature that should have been a standard.
Using the voice command makes your phone ring, making it a lot easier to find under that coat you just put down.
8. Create New Tasks with Trello or Todoist
Just like with Google Calendar, Google Home can read off tasks and dates but has a hard time creating them. Thankfully, with either an applet like this one, or by linking your Todoist, or other accounts to the Google Home app, it’s possible.
If you’ve linked an app to Google Home, just say “OK Google, let me talk to [APP NAME]” to get started.
9. Turn Your TV On and Off
Google Home can already control certain television brands, but for some others, there are thankfully applets to help fill in the coverage gaps. If you’ve heard of Harmony, this applet, and then this one, let you turn your TV on and off with Google Home.
It’s a great workaround if your TV isn’t automatically compatible, which brings me to my last point about IFTTT.
10. Controlling Unsupported Devices
Take a moment to browse IFTTT’s applet library. Search for anything related to Google Assistant, or any of the other supported apps with Google Home. In just seconds you’ll find a workaround for almost any smart device you can think of to improve your smart home experience.
I’ve talked about Amazon Echo before, and while I think it has better functionality out of the box, IFTTT lets Google Home catch up and then some. You still need some basic knowledge about IFTTT, but it doesn’t take long to learn, and your Google Home will be better for it.
Using Tasker for Better Notifications and IFTTT Applets
As of right now, Google Home’s notification system has room for improvement, and there isn’t an applet already that suits every need. Instead of waiting for Google to update Home to have a better system, or for someone to make the applet you need, why not make it yourself?
Tasker is a great way to get these applets to trigger and make your smart devices and Google Home harmonize better than ever. Unfortunately, the easiest way to use Tasker like this is still a little complicated. Thankfully, Juan M. has put together a great Tasker and IFTTT tutorial that explains the process better than I ever could.
Using this method means you need to have knowledge of Tasker, IFTTT, and making web requests. The video tutorial does a great job of explaining everything, letting someone as inept as I am with anything related to coding get a grasp on the subject.
First things first, if you don’t already have Tasker, you’ll need it on your Android, so please download it here:
Tasker Trial Download
This version of Tasker is a free trial, so if you like the system, you’ll need to pay $2.99 to keep using the service. If you think this is something you’ll continue to use with Google Home, the $2.99 upgrade will pay for itself in no time.
Using Chromecast to Broaden Google Home’s Range
If you’re familiar with Chromecast, you’ll be happy to hear that it helps Google Home workaround some of its casting limitations, but sadly not all of them. If you want to cast Youtube, Spotify, or other Google streaming and music services, you can right out of the box.
Depending on your version of Chromecast, it will use Google Home as a hub to stream to devices that were previously incompatible. This is also possible with things like IFTTT and Tasker like I’ve mentioned before, but Chromecast is just an easier way to get things done.
To find out which version of Chromecast is right for you, visit Google’s website on the device before making a purchase.
Google Home still has some kinks that need working out, and a few missing features, but luckily it’s possible to add them yourself. With a little work, and help from other apps, Google Home becomes a much more complete package and an even better smart device.
If you need some help with Google Home, please don’t hesitate to ask any questions you have below.