What is Google Home?

Google Home is Google's smart speaker, part of a new generation of two-way information and automation devices that are placed in home or office settings in order to actively listen for and respond to spoken requests and commands. The Google Home brand also includes related products such as Google Home Mini and Google Home Max.

Google Home was released in 2016 and gained quick acclaim as an Android-based alternative to Amazon Echo, the first widely popular smart speaker. Google Home is also distinct from the similarly named Apple HomePod, another device in the growing smart speaker marketplace.

How does Google Home work?

Google Home utilizes the popular Google Assistant virtual assistant to make speakerphone calls, play music, submit search engine queries, check users' calendars, and more. This built-in integration with the Google universe (Gmail, Google Photos, etc.) makes it easy to start using Google Home with those tools. Then, like other smart speakers, Google Home can be extended to communicate with and control an expanding array of lifestyle applications, home automation systems and productivity tools.

Once turned on, smart speakers such as Google Home are always listening for human voices and are programmed to respond to specific wake-up words or phrases. For Google Home, it's the same "OK Google" or "Hey Google" that activate the Google Assistant wherever it is installed (including smartphones, laptops, tablets, smart speakers and smart displays). Interaction with Google Home and other smart speakers is typically two-way, allowing users to refine an initial question or give sequential commands.

What can I do with a Google Home smart speaker?

Smart speakers are truly useful accessories. With just a few words, you can summon answers, activate services and perform other activities you formerly had to do on your own (whether in person or by typing on a keyboard). Some capabilities are native to the device while others require integration with other tools and services.

Native capabilities of Google Home

Fresh out of the box, Google Home and the Google Assistant software agent that powers it can accomplish a wide array of tasks, especially for users of Google's email, calendar and other services. Here's some of what Google Home can do on its own:

  • Play music. Feel like singing along? Tell Google Home to find and play a new song or call up something from your playlist.
  • Set reminders: Need a quick alert? Ask Google Home to tell you when it's time to bring in the dog or let the cat outside.
  • Send messages: Got something to say? Use Google Home to send a dictated email message to your boss or a text message to a friend.
  • Get answers: Want the facts? Google Home can get the local weather forecast, search for the capital of Brazil, or read out your daily schedule.

Google Home integration with other tools

Many popular capabilities of Google Home and other smart speakers involve combining them with other services and tools such as home automation hubs. Here's some of what Google Home can do when it's integrated with other devices:

  • Lock the doors: Combine Google Home with your home security systems to put locks, alarms, and other settings under convenient, centralized voice control.
  • Light the room: Use Google Home with automated home lighting networks -- or just a few wireless-enabled smart plugs -- to turn on the lights without touching a switch.
  • "Go" shopping: Set Google Home to log into a local grocery service and you can simply speak the items you want added to your next delivery.

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