Our Google Home tips and tricks guide helps you to get started with your new smart speaker assistant, and discover hidden features and easter eggs that Google buried away inside.
Google's quest for world domination is going rather well. In 2017, the company has well and truly embedded itself inside our homes thanks to its aptly-named smart speaker, the Google Home. Powered by the Google Assistant artificial intelligence, this device makes short work of carrying out your every voice command. Much like the Amazon Alexa-powered Echo, and the impending Apple HomePod with Siri.
What’s that? You already have a Google Home? Well, in that case let us tell you about some of the best hidden features you might not know about, as well as some nifty Google easter eggs that are tucked away inside. And check out our Google Home hub for all you need to know about this smart speaker, including our full review of the smaller Home Mini - which works perfectly well as a secondary device to extend your voice control coverage.
Google Home tips and tricks - Demand privacy
A speaker sat in the corner of your room that constantly eavesdrops on your every word. That sounds like something we might be forced to install after being released from prison, or a gadget from some dystopian sci-fi movie. Not something we need to pay for. But, fret not, as the Google Home is only really listening out for its wake words, “Ok Google."
If you don’t trust Google's word or simply wish the speaker to go to sleep, there is thankfully a quick and easy way to mute the thing.
If you want to turn off the microphones on the Google Home so you know you have guaranteed privacy, simply tap the mute button on the device itself or use the 'mute' voice command. Once done, you’ll notice a light blinks on, confirming the mics are disabled. Leaving you free to continue whatever nefarious conversation you were having, in true privacy.
Google Home tips and tricks - Sing a song request
Chances are you're often hearing songs on the radio and would love to download them - but have no idea what the tune is actually called or who sings it. No worries, Google Home can help out.
You can simply activate Google Home and ask it to “Play the song that goes…” and speak a verse, or even sing it if you're brave enough. Google will then go off and hopefully find what you’re after. We've found that talking works better than singing, although that might be more down to a terrible singing voice rather than Google’s lack of intelligence.
Google Home tips and tricks - Have a conversation
One of the most powerful tools you have in your Google Home, aside from the speakers, is the Google search engine. This makes the Home an audio version of Google.com, so you can ask it pretty much anything and expect a decent answer.
But beyond that (and bettering the performance of its rivals), Google Home also lets you have a conversation - of sorts. If you're not entirely satisfied with your answer or require more information, simply ask follow-up questions and Google Home will understand the context.
So for instance, if you ask when a certain film is showing at a cinema near you and you get an answer, you can then ask about places to park or eat nearby. Google remembers the subject you’re talking about so the next question is contextually relevant. Pretty smart, right?
Google Home tips and tricks - Build your shopping list with the family
One nice offering from Google Home is the ability to build a shopping list. Simply say “OK Google, add Nutella to my shopping list” and the chocolatey goodness will be added to your Google Keep app, ready to order. But the speaker's functionality goes further than this. You can also invite others, like family members or housemates, to share that list.
To do this, you just need to add other people to your list access. Simply tap the three-dot menu icon in the list’s bottom right corner and select “collaborator” and choose who you wish to add.
Google Home tips and tricks - Find your phone
Lost your phone? Again? Avoid the inevitable grimy fingers from poking around down the back of your couch and just ask Google Home to find it for you.
Just set up a recipe on your smart speaker and you’ll be able to have Google Home call your phone on demand, so you can hunt down the little blighter by its ringing. Or, if you're like us, tell everyone to be super quiet while you listen for the subtle vibration sound.
Google Home tips and tricks - Plan your day
The Google Assistant smart AI helper really lives up to its name in Google Home, when you ask it about your day ahead. Simply say “OK Google, tell me about my day” or “OK Google, good morning”.
The Google Assistant will then jump into your calendar and tell you what traffic to expect on your morning commute, how the weather will be and read out any reminders you’ve set for yourself. It’ll round it all off by reading out the news too. And this is all fully customisable from within Google Home's settings.
Google Home tips and tricks - Play games
If you fancy trying out a voice-controlled game with Google Home, simply say “OK Google, I’m feeling lucky”. This will then fire up a multiplayer game show that allows you and whoever is around to compete in a question-and-answer quiz game.
Google Home tips and tricks - Send dictated WhatsApp messages
A really nice service Google Home offers is the ability to dictate written messages, which are then sent from your phone. And yes, this feature even works with WhatsApp.
Simply say “Ok Google, send a message to (contact name) on (WhatsApp)”, or whatever messaging app you wish to use. Follow this by reading out the message you want to send. This is particularly ideal if you’re cooking and want to ask someone to grab ingredients on their way home, or check their progress.
Google Home tips and tricks - Let off some steam with a corny joke
Google Home is a bit of a clown, with the hidden ability to lighten up your day with a joke or two. Well, to be accurate, it reads corny one-liners out from Pixar. As such, these are age-appropriate gags so you don’t have to worry about any filthy language, regardless of who’s in the room.
Simply say “Ok Google, tell me a joke” and get ready for the LOLs that follow.
Google Home tips and tricks - Be rude, get results
At the other end of the age-appropriate spectrum there is a command you can use to submit a bug report, should you find a problem.
Just say “OK Google, f*ck you,” and that’ll begin the bug report process.
Google Home tips and tricks - Expand your horizons
If you just want Google Home to do something a bit different and still keep you entertained, try saying “OK Google, read a poem”.
Google Home will use Google search to find a random poem for that day and read it out to you. Nice.
Google Home tips and tricks - Get shwifty
If you don’t already recognise the word shwifty you might not appreciate the Rik & Morty TV show reference that you can get out of Google Home.
Say “Ok Google, Wubba lubba dub dub” - referencing the Birdperson speak from the show. Google Home gives a few appropriately fun responses, which fans will love.