Google Home tips and tricks – Here are the best features of this Amazon Echo rival
Author: Joseph Carey
Date Written: Mar 23, 2019 at 5:00 PM
Date Saved: 3/24/19, 11:11 PM
All models of the Google Home are incredibly capable thanks to their vast array of features
Google Home is available in three models; the standard Google Home, the Google Home Mini and Google Home Max.
Back in October, the Mountain View firm also debuted its first smart display, dubbed the Google Home Hub.
The Home Hub has the same Assistant functionality as the other Home speakers but adds a screen that can display contextual information.
All models of the Google Home are incredibly capable thanks to their vast array of features.
Here is Express.co.uk’s compiled list of the best you can take advantage of right now.
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At CES in January Google announced an “interpreter mode” for its Home line of devices.
Once enabled, the feature will translate any speech from one language into another.
If the tool is harnesses on Google Home speakers, audio will provide the translation.
However, if a smart display such as the Google Home Hub is used, the translation will also appear on the product’s screen.
Discussing the feature, Google said: “Speaking a different language no longer has to be a barrier to having a good conversation.
“With Interpreter Mode, a new feature rolling out over the next few weeks on Google Home devices and Smart Displays, you can ask the Google Assistant to help you have a conversation in dozens of languages.
“Just say ‘Hey Google, be my French interpreter’ to start Interpreter Mode and get real-time spoken and (on Smart Displays) written translation to aid the conversation.
“We see this technology expanding to more places—it could help you check in at a foreign hotel or help you understand the bus schedule.”
The Google Home can remember for you
Google Home’s reminder functionality is incredibly useful and can be harnessed in more ways than you might think.
For instance, if you are someone who frequently forgets where things are placed, the smart speaker can help.
If an owner places their phone in their living room drawer, they can say “okay Google, my phone is in the living room drawer”.
That means if the user then forgets where they placed their phone they can say “okay Google, where’s my phone?” and it will respond with the last noted location.
One of the most tedious parts about using the Google Home is the fact the user previously had to repeat phrases such as “okay Google” in order to continue a conversation with the Assistant or ask it added questions.
However, a new feature dubbed Continued Conversations recently arrived for UK owners and allows the user to ask follow-up questions instantly.
Essentially, once the feature has been enabled the Google Assistant will continue listening after it has answered a question in case the user wants further clarification on the matter or to discuss something else entirely.
Continued Conversations can be turned on using the Google Home app.
Dedicated feature to find your phone
For those that want a little help finding their phone, the Google Home is able to make your device ring to make it easier to recover.
To harness the tool, users will need to make sure they have signed in on the same Google account on both their Google Home device and smartphone.
It is worth noting your handset will need to be connected to either a mobile network or Wi-Fi in order for the feature to work.
Google Home is able to provide owners with word definitions, meaning there is no need to pull out your phone or a dictionary.
Additionally, the smart speaker also has a feature that will give users a new word every day in an attempt to bolster their vocabulary.
Google Home games
Google Home is able to provide users with entertainment in the form of games and jokes.
If users load the Google Home app they are able to see a full list of the games on offer.
These range from quizzes to trivia.
Google Home can gain increased functionality thanks to a cavalcade of Assistant apps that are available for users to download.
Owners are able to see a full list of programmes on offer by going to assistant.google.com/explore or via the Google Home app.
If fans are using the latter, they can find them by summoning the side menu present.
After it has emerged, press explore and a search bar will appear where apps can be located.
Assistant apps range from games to those concerned with providing added smart home control.
I live with Alexa, Google Assistant and Siri. Here’s which one you should pick
By Geoffrey A. Fowler The Washington Post
Wed., Nov. 21, 2018
Sure, you could chose a smart speaker based on sound or price. The go-to gadget gift of the season is available from Amazon, Apple and Google with better acoustics, new touch screens and deep holiday discounts.
But you’re not just buying a talking jukebox. Alexa, Siri and Google Assistant also want to adjust the thermostat, fill your picture frame or even microwave your popcorn. Each artificial intelligence assistant has its own ways of running a home. You’re choosing which tribe is yours.
The Consumer Technology Association says one in 10 Americans plan to buy a smart speaker this year. (Tyler Lizenby/CNET / TNS)
I call it a tribe because each has a distinct culture — and demands loyalty. This decision will shape how you get information, what appliances you purchase, where you shop and how you protect your privacy. One in 10 Americans plan to buy a smart speaker this year, according to the Consumer Technology Association. And Amazon says its Echo Dot is the bestselling speaker, ever.
The last time we had to choose a tech tribe like this was when smartphones arrived. Did you go iPhone, Android, or cling to a BlackBerry? A decade later, it’s increasingly hard to fathom switching between iPhone and Android. (A recent Match.com survey found iPhone and Android people don’t even like dating one another.)
Now imagine how hard it will be to change when you’ve literally wired stuff into your walls.
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In my test lab — I mean, living room — an Amazon Echo, Google Home and Apple HomePod sit side by side, and the voice AIs battle it out to run my home like genies in high-tech bottles. Here’s the shorthand I’ve learned: Alexa is for accessibility. Google Assistant is for brainpower. And Siri is for security.
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Amazon’s aggressive expansion makes Alexa the one I recommend, and use, the most. Google’s Assistant is coming from behind, matching feature by feature — and Siri, the original voice assistant, feels held back by Apple’s focus on privacy and its software shortcomings. (Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post, but I review all tech with the same critical eye.)
Smart speakers are building the smart home that you never knew you needed. Inside the audio equipment, they’re home hub computers that work alongside smartphone apps to connect and control disparate devices and services. Now with a speaker and the right connected gizmo, you can walk into a room and turn on the lights without touching a button. Or control the TV without a remote. Amazon even sells an Alexa-operated microwave that cooks, tracks and reorders popcorn.
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But home assistants can also be Trojan horses for a specific set of devices and services that favour one company over another.
My buddy Matt recently asked me to help him pick speakers and appliances for a big remodel. He loves the Google Assistant on his Android phone, so selecting his tribe should be easy, right? Hardly: He wanted to put Sonos speakers all around the house, but they take voice commands directly via Alexa. (Sonos says Google Assistant support is coming, though it’s been promising that for a year.)
Figuring out which connected doodads are compatible can be like solving a 10,000-piece puzzle. The best smart home gadgets (like Lutron Caseta and Philips Hue lights) work across all three tribes, but sometimes alliances and technical concerns make appliance makers take sides.
Each AI has its limitations. They’re not all equally skilled at understanding accents — Southerners are misunderstood more with Google and Midwesterners with Alexa. The price of ownership with some is letting a company surveil what goes on in your house. You can try, like me, to live with more than one, but you’re left with a patchwork that won’t win you any favours with family.
How do you find your AI tribe? Here’s how I differentiate them.
Supported smart home devices: Over 20,000.
Who loves it: Families who buy lots through Amazon and experiment with new gizmos.
The good: Alexa knows how to operate the most stuff, thanks to Amazon’s superior deal making. The only connected things it can’t run in my house are the app-operated garage door and some facets of my TV. Amazon also has been successful at spawning new connected gadgets: Alexa’s voice and microphone are built into more than 100 non-Amazon devices. And Amazon recently announced plans to offer appliance makers a chip that lets Alexa users voice command inexpensive everyday things, from wall plugs to fans.
Alexa has also mastered some of the little details of home life. It will confirm a request to turn off the lights without repeating your command — super helpful when someone nearby is napping.
The bad: Alexa grows smarter by the week, but it can be a stickler about using specific syntax. It also has the weakest relationship with your phone, the most important piece of technology for most people today. Amazon has bolstered a companion Alexa app for phones, making it better for communicating and setting up smart home routines, but I still find it the most confusing of the lot.
Amazon doesn’t always show the highest concern for our privacy. This spring, when Alexa inadvertently recorded a family’s private conversations and sent it to a contact, Amazon’s response boiled down to ‘whoopie.’ And it records and keeps every conversation you have with the AI — including every bag of popcorn it microwaves. (Amazon says it doesn’t use our queries to sell us stuff beyond making recommendations based on song and product searches).
Some love Alexa’s ability to order products by voice. But as long as Alexa runs your house, you’ll always be stuck buying those goods from Amazon. (That microwave will only ever order popcorn from Amazon.) The coming generation of appliances built with the Alexa chip inside could similarly trap you forever into Amazon-land.
Supported smart home devices: Over 10,000.
Who loves it: People who are deep into Google’s services.
The good: Google Assistant comes the closest to having a conversation with an actual human helper. You don’t have to use exact language to make things happen or get useful answers. Its intelligence can also be delightfully personal: It’s pretty good at differentiating the voices of family members. And on the new Home Hub device with a screen, Assistant curates a highlights-only show from your Google Photos collection.
While Android phone owners are more likely to use lots of Assistant-friendly Google services, the Assistant doesn’t particularly care what kind of phone you use — its simple companion apps work on iOS and Android.
And Google is neck and neck with Alexa on many of the nuances: Night mode reduces the volume of answers at night, and it can even require Junior to say “pretty please.”
The bad: As a relative newcomer to the smart home, Google has been catching up fast. But in my house, it still can’t fully control my Ring doorbell or send music to my Sonos speakers. And I’m not convinced that Google has Amazon’s negotiating sway, or the influence to bring the next generation of connected things online.
The bigger problem is privacy. Google’s endgame is always getting you to spend more time with its services, so it can gather more data to target ads at you. Like Alexa, Google Assistant keeps a recording of all your queries — every time you ask it to turn off the lights. Google treats this kind of like your Web search history, and uses it to target ads elsewhere. (Thankfully, It still keeps data from its Nest thermostat and home security division separate.) The potential upside is that when Google discovers your habits in all that data, it might be able to better automate your home — like what time all the lights should be off.
Supported smart home devices: Hundreds.
Who loves it: Privacy buffs and all-Apple households.
The good: Apple means business on security and privacy. Any device that wants to connect to HomeKit, its smart home software that works with Siri on the HomePod and iPhone, requires special encryption.
What’s more, your data is not attached to a personal profile, which aside from protecting your privacy also means that Apple is not using your home activity to sell or advertise things. (While other smart speakers keep recordings and transcriptions of what you say, Siri controls devices by making a request to its system through a random identifier, which cannot be tied to specific user.)
And Apple is pretty good at keeping the smart home simple. Setting up a smart home device is mostly just scanning a special code. Even creating routines, in which multiple accessories work in combination with a single command, is easier in the Siri’s companion Home app than with competitors.
The bad: You have to live in an all-Apple device world to reap these benefits. Siri’s a pretty good DJ, but only if you subscribe to Apple Music. You’re stuck with the HomePod as the one-size-fits-all smart speaker, and Siri still isn’t as competent as her AI competitors.
And Apple’s security-first approach has kept too many appliance makers from joining its ecosystem. Sure, it’s quality not quantity, but Siri still can’t interact with my Nest thermostat or Ring doorbell, just to name two. Apple did recently loosen up a tad: starting with Belkin Wemo’s Mini Smart Plug and Dimmer, it no longer requires special hardware for authentication — that can now happen via software. The move should make it simpler to make new products Siri compatible, and allow it access to existing ones.
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