First introduced in May 2016, the Google Home has fast become one of the leading connected smart speakers. It’s perhaps one of the most flexible devices of its kind and only gets better with updates and new features.
We’re in an era where the Google Home faces strong competition from the likes of Sonos, Amazon Echo, and the Apple HomePod. Each has its own advantages and drawbacks, and the space will get more crowded when Samsung delivers its first Bixby-powered speaker.
Getting Smarter and Smarter
The Google Home has a more robust user experience than when it initially launched; it gets smarter all the time. It’s flexible, customizable, and designed to act as your personal assistant. Indeed, there are a ton of questions and commands you can use to harness the internal Google Assistant technology.
For all of the cool and unique things you might do with the Google Home there are a few options and settings that you absolutely should do. Setting up the Google Home, Home Mini, and Home Max is a breeze, but there’s a handful of additional customization that’s worth the time.
Here are nine features and settings every Google Home user needs to know. Seasoned users might take these for granted, but new owners will appreciate learning a thing or two.
Note that some of these will also work for the Google Home Mini and/or Google Home Max.
A couple of things to keep in mind
- Make sure you have the latest version of the Google Home app.
- Check to ensure you’re connected to the same Wi-Fi network as your Google Home device.
Enable ‘Do Not Disturb’
Regardless of where you have your Google Home setup, chances are good that you’ll sometimes want to mute notifications and reminders. To do so, open the Google Home app and look to the top right corner for Devices. Scroll down to the speaker or device you’d like to change and open the menu in the right corner. From there go to Settings and look for Do Not Disturb. Simply toggle the slider on and off.
Change Device Name
Have you moved your speakers around or added to your setup? You might want to rename your device(s) so you can better identify them. Doing this is easy. Open the Google Home app and look for Devices in the menu or in the top right corner of the main screen. Once there, tap on the menu in the right corner for the device you want to change. Scroll to where you see the Name section and tap on it. After typing in your new name remember to tap “Save”.
Enable/Disable Guest Mode
Planning to host a party or game night? Guest mode is a cool feature which makes it easy for friends and attendees to cast their music and media to your Google Home. Using a combination of Wi-Fi and location, the app can create a private network for trusted users to connect to the speaker.
If you’d like to set up Guest mode, open the app and look for the device for which you’d like to enable the feature. In the right corner tap the menu button and select Guest mode. Once you enable the setting you’ll be given a randomly generated PIN. Give this out to your guests so they can hop onto your speaker or TV and share. All they have to do now is connect to your Wi-Fi network and cast the music or media from inside an app like Google Play Music or Spotify.
Change Volume for Timers and Alarms
Depending on where you place your Google Home, you might not want it to be all that loud. The one on your nightstand, for instance, might need not be as loud as the one in your kitchen.
To adjust the volume level for alarms and timers, open the Google Home app and look to the top right corner for Devices. Scroll to the device you’d like to change and open the menu in the right corner. Find “Alarms and Timers” and adjust the slide according to preference.
Change Volume and LED Brightness with Night Mode
If you want to manage the overall volume and brightness of your Google Home, you can do so via “Night Mode”. Inside of the Settings for the device you’d like to change you’ll want to look for Night mode. Once you enable it you’ll be presented with a host of options, each of which lets you set automatic changes for certain days of the week or time of day.
These settings are helpful if you have a room that you’d like to keep quiet or dim in the evenings. Moreover, the automatic schedule gives you peace of mind in that you don’t have to go in and change it every night.
Create or Change Your Nickname
Want to change things up a little bit? Have your Google Home use a nickname when addressing you. Additionally, it will also use the same name when on your Pixel 2 or other phones with Google Assistant.
To set your nickname open Google Home, open the menu and tap on More Settings. From there you’ll go to Personal Info and tap Nickname. You can edit it to be whatever you’d like but if Google has a hard time learning it, you can also record yourself to teach it proper pronunciation. Have fun with it, “brah”.
Change Google Assistant Language
Changing the language of your Google Home is fairly simple and can be done on a per-device basis. Inside of the mobile app, tap on More Settings in the menu and scroll down to the section marked Devices. Tap on the one you want to change and look for Assistant Language.
Enable/Disable Personal Results
Sometimes we don’t want to share things that are personal, especially in a public setting. Worried about a co-worker hearing your next doctor’s appointment or flight? Turn off the personal results.
In the Google Home app, go to the menu and look for More Settings. Look for the section marked “Devices” and select the one you want to adjust. The next screen will let you enable or disable the “personal results”.
Enable sound after saying, “Ok Google”
Wouldn’t it be nice if your Google Home would make some kind of chime or noise to signal it heard you? It’s possible. Navigate in the app to the Devices in the top right of the app and open its menu. Scroll to Accessibility and enable sounds; you can opt for both the beginning and the end of the request.
What else is there?
Indeed, there’s plenty left in the Google Home configuration and customization. Have fun looking around and playing with the various settings, making your devices more uniquely “yours”.
Is there a particular setting that impressed or surprised you? Leave a comment below with your favorite tweak for Google Home.