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In this article, we provide a comprehensive list of Google Home’s capabilities and break down how it compares to the Amazon Echo.
What Does the Google Home Do and What Is All the Hype About?
Unless you are living under a rock, you’ve heard of the Google Home and Amazon Echo voice assistants/smart speakers by now. By all accounts, voice is the next technology frontier and is already changing the way we live.
To keep up with the latest tech, I bought the Google Home about a year ago.
You might be wondering why I chose the Google Home over the Amazon Echo. It’s a good question and I will address that later in the post.
At first, I used only a few basic commands with the Google Home but, as I am using it more and understanding the full capabilities, I am realizing that this speaker that can tell me the weather and play music is really so much more than that.
Simple and Easy to Use
Before I jump into all the amazing things the Google Home can do, I need to quickly applaud Google for making the set up so easy.
You literally plug it in, download the Google Home App and it walks you through the handful of steps to set it up and connect it to your Wifi. It takes about 5 minutes and is foolproof. If you are interested in more set up details, AndroidCentral.com has a nice overview.
The Google Home Can Answer Any Question
If it’s not obvious, the main advantage of the Google Home and voice assistants, in general, is that you can control them with your voice. When you have a question or need to look something up, you no longer need to unlock your phone and type in it. Here we go from lazy to lazier 🙂
You simply say “OK Google” (this is its “wake command”) to get its attention, then say your command or ask your question. Within a split second the kind female voice tells you the answer. Just about anything you would normally search on Google.com, you can ask Google Home and get an answer back immediately.
The main things I use the Google Home for are:
- Weather – “OK Google, what is the weather today?”
- Traffic and driving directions – “OK Google, how long will it take me to drive to [insert destination]?”
- Music – “OK Google, play relaxing music” – you can sync it with Spotify and other streaming music services
- Cooking – “OK Google, give me a recipe for [insert meal I don’t know how to make]”
- Controlling lights – “OK Google, turn on the blue lamp” – you can sync all sorts of other smart devices to it including smart bulbs. See it in action below and check out our review of our favorite smart bulb from TP-Link
Those are just the basics but the Google Home can do so much more.
We’ve been thoroughly researching and testing to find the coolest and most useful capabilities. Without further ado….
100 Amazing Things That You Can Do With the Google Home
- Order an Uber – once synced with your Uber app, you can order an Uber with your voice and it will come right to your house
- Control other smart devices in your house – I mentioned before, you can turn smart bulbs on and off but that is just the beginning.
- Control your TV – you need a Chromecast device or Chromecast enabled TV, but once you have that, you can make commands like “OK Google play The Office on Netflix” or “OK Google show me YouTube videos about making chili”
- Turn on/off the lights using smart switches instead of bulbs – Installing a smart switch is slightly more work than installing smart bulbs, but with the switch, don’t need to replace any dumb bulbs with smart bulbs.
- Control and stream security cameras to your TV – Just say “OK Google, what’s on camera A?” and see what camera A sees on your TV. Tony Montana could have used this.
- Wash your clothes – turn on compatible smart washers with the simple command “OK Google, do the laundry”
- Do the dishes – it works with fancy new smart dishwashers like the GE Profile Top Control Smart Dishwasher
- Control your locks – you’ll need to sync with August Smart Locks
- Open your garage doors – compatible with Chamberlain MyQ Garage, a smart garage door controller
- Make coffee – with compatible smart coffee makers
- Clean your house – yes the Google Home will even clean your house. Well, not exactly, but you can link it to a Roomba vacuum and activate it by saying “OK Google tell Roomba to start cleaning”
- View photos from Google Photos on your TV – you’ll need Chromecast on your TV
- Find out how much traffic there is anywhere
- Find out how long it will take to get to work
- Find out how long it will take to get to a particular business – “How long will it take for me to get to Sam’s Club?”
- Check if a store or business is still open
- Find out how long it will take to get between two destinations (not including your home) – “How long will it take to get from work to Boston Logan Airport?”
- Get dates for holidays – “When is Greek Easter this year?”
- Remind you where you put stuff – when you put something important away like your wedding ring say “my ring is in the drawer”. It will save that and later when you can’t find it, just ask Google where it is.
- Remind you to do something
- Buy things from Google Express
- Get real-time sports score updates – “OK Google what’s the score of the Duke game?”
- Get sports standings – “OK Google how are the Patriots doing this year?”
- Get sports schedules – “OK Google who are the Patriots playing this week?”
- Find out the schedule for the entire league – “OK Google what’s the NFL schedule this Sunday?”
- Get league standings – “OK Google what are the AFC East standings?”
- Ask it to tell you a joke
- Read you recipes for nearly any meal
- Get how-to cooking tips – ex. “OK Google how do I melt chocolate?”
- Tell you how many calories are in foods
- Tell you the nutritional content of food – “OK Google how many grams of sugar in a banana?”
- Get cooking and prep times
- Find out the perfect temperature to cook certain foods
- Find out the perfect internal temperature for medium-rare ribeye (or any other meats)
- Set a timer so you don’t burn your food
- If you don’t feel like cooking, order a pizza – once you link to the Domino’s app you can order a pizza with just your voice. This would have come in handy in college.
- Send messages on WhatsApp
- Make phone calls – call anyone in your contacts or businesses using your voice. You need to be in the US and have the latest version of the Google app.
- Define words for you
- Play a particular Pandora station
- Play a particular genre of music
- Play music based on your mood or moment – “OK Google play cleaning music”
- Do two things at once – it now has the ability to process to commands at once. For example, “OK Google turn on the lights and tell me the weather”. Multi-tasking!
- Find out what song is playing like Shazam
- Tune into your favorite radio station
- Read you a poem
- Read you an audiobook
- Tell you the weather anywhere in the world
- Translate words and phrases into different languages
- Play 20 Questions
- Play Guess My Age – Google Home will try to guess your age based on your voice
- Play Mystery Sounds – it plays sounds without context. The faster you guess the sound correctly, the higher your score will be.
- Play “Lucky Trivia”
- Play “Crystal Ball”
- Play “Mad Libs”
- Create shortcuts – you can create custom shortcuts for long phrases you commonly ask. For example, instead of saying “OK Google turn off the blue lamp” you can create a shortcut so it shuts off the lamp when you say “OK Google, bedtime”.
- Create a shopping list – all you have to do is say, “OK Google add cereal to my list”. Access the list on your Google Home app while at the store.
- Get flight prices – ask “how much does it cost to fly from New York to Miami leaving Friday and returning Monday?”. You’ll get the lowest cost flight immediately and it can send you an email summary to your Gmail account. Could that be any easier?
- Get updates for existing flights – “Is my flight on time?” or “What times are my flights?”
- Stay on track – Google Home can sync with your calendar so you can ask “How does my day look” and hear what’s scheduled. You can also add events like “Add dinner with Mike to my calendar tomorrow at 7 PM”.
- Read you the latest news
- Listen to news from a specific provider – “OK Google, play NPR news”
- Play podcasts
- Convert different currencies – ex. Dollars to Bitcoin
- Convert different metrics – ex. yards to meters etc.
- Find out what time it is anywhere in the world
- Send information to your phone – when you ask it a question you can send the answer to your phone simply by saying “send this to my phone”.
- Multi-room audio – Group Google Home, Chromecast Audio, or speakers with Chromecast Audio built-in together for music throughout the home.
- Get you random facts about humans – “Who is the oldest living human on earth?”
- Get facts about celebrities – “How tall is Justin Timberlake?”
- Get facts about science – “How far is the moon?”, “why is the sky blue?”
- Sing Happy Birthday to you
- Calculate numbers for you – “OK Google what is 620 times 34?”
- Flip a coin – trouble deciding between options, let Google decide
- Set an alarm – you can program it to happen every day or just select days
- Snooze your alarm
- Find out the price of a particular stock
- Find out the stock price at opening, closing or pre-market
- Get updates on an entire stock index
- Find out a company’s market cap
- Find out if there are any [atms, pizza places, coffee shops, hardware stores etc.] near me
- Create shortcuts – Shortcuts let you create faster, easier ways to do your most common things. For example, you can program it so when you say “Ok Google, good night” it will turn off the lights in your room or “OK Google, good morning” means tell me the weather, commute and read me my calendar events.
- Learn what movies are playing
- Learn what actors are in the movies playing
- Discover what there is to see in Florence Italy (or anywhere else)
- Post to Facebook – once you create an “if this, then that” command you can say something like “Tell my friends I’m playing basketball” and it automatically posts to Facebook.
- Broadcast messages to all Google Homes in your house – Perfect for “tell the kids dinner is ready”.
- Change the temperature – compatible with Nest or some Honeywell thermostats
- Get free bartender training – ask what ingredients go into an Old Fashioned or a Mojito or tell it what ingredients you have and it will tell you what drink to make
- Play trivia – “OK Google, ask me a trivia question?” It will give you some possible answers to choose from, but be careful, if you get it wrong you might be hearing boos.
- Learn something new – Ask it to “tell you something new/interesting” and learn a random fact. Who knows, those random facts to help you win big on game night or when you finally make it onto Jeopardy.
- Tune your guitar
- Get educated on beer – ask Google Home to ask Beer Guide about the new craft beer you want to try and learn the ABV, style, brewer and a description of the beer.
- Get educated on wine – I’ll admit, I know just the basics about wine but one of my goals is to get a better acquainted. Powered by Wine Guide, you get a virtual sommelier at your fingertips to give you recommendations and the perfect pairings with whatever you’re cooking.
- Increase your vocab by learning a new word every day
- Set an alarm to wake you up every day
- Get help with spelling – “OK Google how do I spell handkerchief?” (this tripped me up in the 6th-grade spelling bee, still not over it).
- Listen to soothing ambient sounds
- Listen to white noise – puts me right to sleep
- Locate your phone – ask “where is my phone?” and it will dial the number linked to the Google Home account. See this in action below.
The amount of things that the Google Home can do is absolutely amazing!
We discovered these 100 capabilities through personal experience and from extensive research, however, there are dozens of other things you can do and new features rolling out constantly. We will be updating this list so please drop us a line if you hear about something new.
Google Home vs. Amazon Echo: Which to buy?
So all of those capabilities are great, but what about the Amazon Echo? The Echo was the first home-based virtual assistant / smart speaker, but is it better than Google Home? The answer is not so simple.
I’ll preface this by saying, both the Google Home and Amazon Echo are amazing products and you really can’t go wrong with either. Over time they will likely look more and more similar to each other as they add new capabilities and strengthen areas where they are currently falling short.
The best option for you will depend on your individual needs, priorities, the connected devices you already own and the services you use.
The Argument for Amazon Echo
- You can order, reorder, track and get updates on any Amazon item. If you are a Prime member and love to shop on Amazon, the Echo is the better option. At this point, you cannot purchase anything on Amazon through Google Home.
- If you care about connecting everything in your home, Amazon has a head start on Google. Since the Echo came out first, almost every smart home device or system is compatible with it. Google is catching up but there are still many smart devices that you can only control with the Echo.
- If you are looking for variety in size and sound, Amazon has many more options for Alexa enabled smart speakers including the: Echo Dot, Echo Show, Echo Spot, Echo Look.
The Argument for Google Home
- You just read about 100 amazing things you can do with the Google Home, so you understand its vast capabilities, however, the Amazon Echo can do many of those things too. The core advantage of Google Home is the fact that it is powered by Google. There is no company on earth that indexes and organizes data at scale and as well as Google. That, in addition to their expertise in voice, gives Google Home an inherent advantage. Amazon Echo’s default search engine is Bing…
- Going along with my point above, Google’s other products are built right into the architecture of Google Home including Google Maps, Youtube, Google Music, Google Translate, Chromecast etc. No, you can’t order things on Amazon, but you can order from Google Express which connects with Target, Walmart, and other big retailers.
- Google is a bit ahead on the natural language front. For example, you can say “what is The Rock’s real name?” and then follow with “Where did he go to college?”. With Alexa, you have to ask two separate questions: “What is The Rock’s real name?” “Where did The Rock go to college?”
One way to really see which one is the best is to put them head to head in a test. Forbes did just that asking both devices the same 54 questions/commands ranging from “when is the next Arsenal game?” to “add garlic to my shopping list”. The Google Home answered 32 of 54 correct while Amazon Echo got only 19 correct. The questions in this test might not be comprehensive or tailored for your specific needs so take it for what it’s worth. Clearly, Google has the edge when it comes to information.
Downsides of the Google Home
Well, to be honest, not much. In my opinion, for what it does they could charge a lot more for it. As long as Google and Amazon are battling it out for market share, the prices should remain relatively low which is great for us consumers!
Compared to the one viable alternative, the Amazon Echo, Google Home is not compatible with as many smart devices, you cannot order or track items from Amazon, you only have 2 options (Home or Mini), and it is slightly more expensive.
I really can’t say much negative about in-home virtual assistants in general. They are quickly changing the way we manage our schedules, learn new things, entertain ourselves, communicate… the list goes on!
In the same ways that smartphone changed our lives on the go, these are changing our lives at home.
Thank you for reading our review of the Google Home!
We hope you enjoyed reading our review and now have a full understanding of all the things you can go with Google home and how it compares to Amazon Echo.
Have you had a different experience with the Google Home? Do you agree or disagree with our evaluation between the Home and Echo? Are there any other virtual assistants that you think are better than the Home? Please let us know in the comments section or contact us directly, we would love to hear your feedback.