Over the last couple of weeks, many of us are staying at home much more than normal and are trying to juggle remote work, distance learning with kids, and virtual hangouts with friends/family. If you have a Google smart speaker, a smart display, or Chromecast, you can put the Google Assistant to work to get things done around the house more easily. We’ve compiled some of the best tips and tricks for you to test out and see what works for you.
Reminders – Use the Google Assistant to help you remember to call a friend or to pay the electric bill. It is easy to forget things when a lot of us have abnormal schedules at this time and I have found this trick to be extremely helpful. I use reminders for actionable items – like taking out the trash or sending an email – rather than adding these as events to my Google Calendar. You can say things like, “Hey Google, remind me to email Robby tomorrow morning at 8 AM.”
You can even assign reminders to others in your house and the reminder will show up on their phone, smart speaker, or smart display. To assign a reminder, just say, “Hey Google, remind Sarah to get toilet paper at 4 PM.”
Create a speaker group – Whether you are trying to be productive or relaxing in the evenings, music is a good way to mentally trigger that particular activity. Create a speaker group in the Google Home app and then create a couple of playlists for different activities. For example, right now I am listening to my “Writer’s Corner” playlist to help me stay focused on this article. Playing the music over a speaker group helps to create a certain ambiance in the house. Just say, “Hey Google, play my writer’s corner playlist on the house group.”
If you don’t want to create a group, you can also move audio to different Home devices with a simple command when you are leaving the room. Just say, “Hey Google, move the audio to the bedroom speaker.”
Routines – If you have smart connected devices in your house, the Google Assistant routines can be especially helpful. You can automate basic things around the house with ready-made routines or get specific with custom routines. To set up routines, open the Google Home app, tap the settings gear, scroll down to More Settings, and then under Assistant tap Routines. After setting up your routines, just say the routine command you want to perform, like, “Hey Google, good morning.”
Create multiple named timers – The Google Assistant is great for setting a hands-free timer but did you know you can create concurrent timers, each with a unique name? Add a name to each timer to help you keep track of multiple dishes in the kitchen or study times for multiple children. Just say, “Hey Google, start a 10 minutes timer for pizza.”
Control your TV – Many living rooms are equipped with a Google Chromecast but it doesn’t come with a remote so what do you do if your phone is charging in the other room and you want to pause Netflix? With the Google Assistant, you can use your voice to easily play/pause, skip forward/back, and turn up/down the volume.
You can say things like: “Hey, Google, skip to five minutes on the Living Room TV” or “Hey, Google, turn up the volume on the Living Room TV.” You can see a full list of commands here.
If you are in the middle of a thrilling episode of the Tiger King on Netflix and the volume is too loud to say a command, you can likely use the remote that came with your TV to pause the episode. You just need to enable HDMI-CEC on your TV and make sure the Chromecast has sufficient power. View the full instructions for setting up your TV remote can be found here.
Jot down notes – Use the Google Assistant to quickly jot down notes when you are in the middle of other tasks. With a change to the app settings at the end of 2019, you can now not only use your voice to make notes, but you can also choose between a few different note-taking apps. You can choose from Google Keep, Any.do, AnyList, and Bring. Just say, “Hey Google, make a new note called video idea.”
Remember Things – It is easy to forget where you have put things around the house, especially long-term storage items like important papers or that cable you don’t use very often. Just tell the Assistant to remember where you put something and then in a week or two when you are looking around the house, just ask the Assistant. You can say something like, “Hey Google, remember I put my extra checkbook in the top drawer in my closet.” Then to recall an item, simply ask, “Hey Google, where did I put my extra notebook?”
Ring Your Phone – Google’s Find My Device service is a great tool to help you find, lock or erase your device but you can also use the Google Assistant to ring your phone when you have misplaced your phone in the house. There is some basic set up you will need to do but then you can simply say, “Hey Google, ring my phone.” The Assistant will read off a phone that is associated with your voice or last used devices and then it will start ringing. If you have an Android phone, the device will even ring if it’s set to “Do Not Disturb.”
You can now also use your Google Assistant to ring a Tile tracker if you are prone to losing more than just your phone. The new Tile Stickers are perfect for household items that you have a tendency to misplace, like keys or remotes. A 2-pack of the Tile Stickers will cost you $39.99.
Play A Game – There is a great selection of interactive games that can be played with just your voice on your Google smart speaker, ranging from in-depth adventure games to kid-friendly trivia. These can be a good way to take a mental break and to have some fun with kids. You can see our top 10 games you can play with your Google Assistant smart speaker here.
Home Workout – If you are missing the gym and want to stay active, there are some great Chromecast-compatible apps out there that will help you get a good workout from home. I have personally enjoyed the Peloton app and, no, you don’t have to own a Peloton-branded spin bike or treadmill to use the app. You can choose from thousands of workouts including yoga, strength training, stretching, high-intensity interval training, and more. Peloton has even started offering a free 90-day subscription trial of their app. Just open the class you want to take, look for the Chromecast icon (bottom right corner on Android), and then choose your Chromecast-enabled display.
Listen to your favorite podcast or radio station – Catch up on the latest episode from your favorite podcast on Google Podcasts or listen to your local radio station from anywhere in your home with a simple voice command. This is a great way to quickly and easily listen to your hometown radio station or favorite DJ in a different city without having to dig around online to find the stream. You can find stations by using the station name, call-sign, or frequently. Just say, “Hey Google, play KQED” or “Hey Google, play 98.7 New York.”
Show answers on the big screen – Smart displays are great because they allow the Google Assistant to show you answers to your questions, making it easier to see the weather forecast or pick out the perfect recipe. But if you already have a Google Home smart speaker and a Chromecast, you can ask the Assistant to display the results on the TV. This will only work for certain search results but it is an easy way to get visual responses to questions about the weather, sports, finances, and more. You can say, “Hey Google, show me the weather on my TV” or “Show me the S&P 500 on my TV.”
In a time when there is so much uncertainly, I hope that you have found some of these tips and tricks helpful, whether you are trying to be more productive or just wanting to relax on the couch. If you have a Google Assistant tip or trick that you use around the house, make sure to tell us about it in the comments below.