For just over $100, you can have the future on your desk. Yes, that future. The one we have all been dreaming about since Captain Kirk and his crew went boldly into space, asking questions aloud and getting accurate answers from the computer. Google Home is the artificial intelligence (AI) spawned in your phone (named “Okay Google!”). It has matured into a room appliance that lets you query The Oracle from where you stand. It knows, it shops, it controls your house, and it is your personal servant.
Google Home can do much more than help you with your day.
It was clever when it was a disembodied phone app but, now that it has corporeal form, it is getting smarter every day. It is so smart, you probably don’t know everything it can do, even if you own one.
Here are ten things you may not know about Google Home.
1. Built By … Not Who You Think
The team that built Google Home is the same one that built Google’s Chromecast. This seems a bit strange, since Google owns Google Search, AKA “The Oracle,” and Nest, an impressive creator of smart home appliances. There is much speculation about what this means for the future of both Nest and Google Home. But it is quite possible that Google knows something that we do not.
2. It Has a Sixth Grader’s Sense of Humor
Just say, “Hey Google! Tell me a joke.” And it will. Go carefully into this one. The jokes tend to be groan-worthy, unless you are in the sixth grade. If you are in the sixth grade, though, ask it to “Play Mad Libs.” Or get it to roll a die for you, if you don’t have one handy and need a roll. Just say, “Hey Google, roll a 12-sided dice.” (Or whatever your game calls for.)
3. It Gets Star Trek
Ask Google Home for “Earl Gray, hot” or to “Beam me up, Scotty!” Or another of your favorite commands from Star Trek and see what happens. I won’t spoil it. But, more often than not, she comes up with a pithy response. In fact, Google Home is culturally relevant in more ways than just Star Trek. Ask, “OK Google, who lives in a pineapple under the sea?” Or try another of your favorite cultural references (and let us know in the comments what happened.)
4. Smarter Timer
Obviously, you can set a timer using Google Home. Just say, “Set a timer for 20 minutes.” But if you find yourself setting the same timer repeatedly, create a shortcut by naming the timer. The first time say, “Set a cookie timer for thirty minutes.” From now on, Google Home will always measure thirty minutes when you ask for a “cookie timer.” (You can name it whatever you want.)
5. Never Lose Anything Again
I recently spent an hour looking for my passport because I put it “somewhere safe.” That will never happen again, thanks to Google Home. When I am stashing my passport, extra keys, or other important item somewhere ‘safe’ I just say, “Hey Google, remember I put my passport in the bottom drawer of my desk.” Later, when I can’t find it, I just ask “Hey Google, where is my passport?” And she will tell me, saving me from tearing the house apart looking for it.
6. Stress Relief
There is no need to shop around for ambient music when you want to dial up some white noise to help you nap, just ask Googe Home to “Help me relax.” It will play ambient sounds of its choice. Prefer to fall asleep to the sounds of the ocean? Say, “Play ocean sounds for 30 minutes.” The ocean will lull you to sleep and turn off automatically after thirty minutes.
7. Diet Help
Not sure if the meal in front of you will blow your diet? Ask Google Home “How many calories are in meatloaf?” or “How much fiber is in kale?” before you munch it … just to be sure. She won’t stop you from scarfing away. But at least you will have your facts straight.
8. Skip That Trip to Costco
Want the cheap toilet paper and diapers without the parking hassles and lines? Let Google Home run to Costco for you. Just say, “Hey Google, buy toilet paper from Costco.” Google Express has partnered with many retailers – including Costco – so you can shop with your voice from the merchants you once had to drive to. Some retailers are available nationwide, others are regional. There is a complete list here.
9. Cast a YouTube video onto your TV
Given who designed Google Home, this one is not surprising. You can cast a YouTube video from your phone to your TV with your voice. Once you have linked your TV to your Google Home, you only have to say, “Hey Google, cast Spongebob videos to the TV.” It will know which TV to use because you already named it in your account. All you have to do now is watch.
10. Show Off Your AI
When people see that you live with an AI, they want to see it do something amazing. But, on the spot, you might not be able to think of exactly the right thing to ask. Try this: “Hey Google, entertain me.” You will get three options: play lucky trivia, spin the wheel, or tell a joke. Your friends will quickly feel less smug about how entertaining they are.
Google Home has many more secrets, and is learning new ones every day. Got a favorite? Let us know what it is in the comments.
Want to know more about Google Home? Check out Alexa? Meet Google Home.