The Google Assistant does a great job of making your smart home a little smarter. From controlling your smart bulbs to commanding your favorite content to whichever smart display you happen to be near at the moment, the Assistant can do so many things and is always ready and willing to assist. One feature, however, has always confounded in the sense that it just felt incomplete. Broadcasting.
The concept is simple and has the potential to be a very useful feature. Want to send a message to the family letting them know you’re on the way home with pizza? Tell the Assistant to broadcast and all the Google Home, Nest and Assistant-enabled speakers will ring the dinner bell by blasting your message. Here’s my problem with the feature. We have no less than 10 Assistant-enabled devices in our home and that doesn’t include the various speakers we have at the office that my Google account is linked to. When I broadcast something, it plays EVERYWHERE. I’m sure the guys at the office are super keen on hearing me calling my kids to the dinner table. Or maybe I want to send a quick voice memo to the Google Home Max at the office to let Robby and Joe know that I stopped to grab some sushi for lunch. If my son is taking a nap at home, he’s probably not going to be as excited about Sushi Wednesday as the guys are.
The ability to broadcast to a specific device or group is a feature that honestly should have rolled out with the broadcast feature itself. I remember more than a year ago hopping into a chat with Google Home (now Nest) support and asking the rep if this was possible. It was not at that time and as far as he could tell, it wasn’t on the road map. He agreed that it would be a very useful feature and that he would pass the feedback on to the Home engineers. Then, radio silence. Rumors of the absent ability have popped up over the past few months but we haven’t seen anything in the wild… until now.
9to5Google’s Ben Schoon got his hands on a video that demonstrates a device-specific broadcast session being handled by the Google Nest Hub. In the video, the user uses the broadcast command to send his message to the living room which would presumably echo the message on any device connected to that room via the Google Home app. I would suspect that, when this feature goes live, you will be able to broadcast to an individual device by naming the device instead of a location.
It appears that the updated broadcast feature is currently under A/B testing which means it could be available for any number of test users but not “official” and therefore you probably can’t force your devices to access it. Personally, I think that this will greatly increase the capabilities of the broadcast feature and I will certainly use it more frequently when Google rolls this out. Fingers crossed that it will be very soon.