I won’t revisit my rant about how, more than two years ago, I reached out to Google support about device-specific broadcasting because the feature is finally a reality and I am ecstatic. Broadcasting with the Google Assistant does exactly what it sounds like it should do. You tell the Assistant to broadcast a message and that message goes out to smart speakers that are connected to your Google account. It’s a nifty little feature sans one, glaring deficiency. In a world where Google and Amazon are wanting to connect everything we own, smart speakers are becoming more prevalent and users like me have them spread out around our homes as well as offices. So, when I want to broadcast to my wife that I’m stopping at the grocery store before I head home, everyone in the Chrome Unboxed office gets the announcement as well.
Device-specific broadcasting should have been a thing out of the gate but thankfully, it is here. Better late than never, right? The feature began showing up for select users last month and now, it appears that Google has pushed the update out on a grander scale. There’s even an update to the support page that shows you how to use the device-specific broadcast feature. Much to my delight, you can also broadcast to specific rooms that you have selected or named in your Google Home app. Now, if I’m running late for a meeting, I can send a broadcast to the Chrome Unboxed office and it will resound on every speaker in our HQ. That’s pretty snazzy.
The reason I’m so excited about this feature update is the fact that I believe tech should serve a purpose. At the end of the day, I want the technology around me to benefit me and those around me. Don’t get me wrong, Assistant-enabled smart speakers are great multi-taskers. You can use them to control your entire smart home and utilize a wide variety of media consumption options but, in my opinion, the broadcast feature was practically useless until this update. It was like building a 550 HP engine only to put a governor on it that kept it under 45 mph. At least that’s what it felt like. Anyway, I have been waiting for this update for way too long and I am beyond happy to share with you that it’s live and ready to use.
You will need to make sure your device’s firmware version is 1.39154941 or higher. You can check this in the Google Home app and tapping on the speaker you want to check. Click the gear icon and scroll to the bottom of that page to see the current firmware version. If you want to get set up for broadcasting to rooms, you can add devices and groups to specific rooms in the speaker or groups settings. If you’re creating a new room, you can always add a custom name specific to your use case. I have found that using single word, short names makes broadcasting a little easier. If Google misunderstands the device you specify, it will end up broadcasting whatever you said to all of your connect speakers. The fail-safe, especially if you’re using the Assistant on your Chromebook, is to just trigger the Assistant then type your broadcast command with the device spelled exactly as it is in the Google Home app.