Best Google Home commands: Getting started with Google’s smart speaker Actions

Google’s Amazon Echo rival, Google Home, has been on the market for months now in the UK. If you’ve just bought one, or are thinking about doing so, the myriad features may be a little overwhelming.

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And while the Amazon Echo has Skills you can enable, Google Home’s features are called Actions, or commands. It is difficult not to compare Google Home to Amazon’s Echo, as both fulfill incredibly similar roles, but when it comes to answering questions, Google Home seems to be smarter. Research by 360i found, after asking each 3,000 questions, Google Home was six times more likely to get the answer right.

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 To help you make the most of the Google Home and this intelligence, we’ve outlined a few key commands and features of Google Home below for beginners, and we’ll be adding more over the coming months for more advanced users.

Google Home commands

Broadcast messages around your home

With Google Assistant you can now create a custom message and send this message to all of your Home speakers. Simply say “broadcast”, “shout”, “tell everyone” or “announce” followed by your message. The new feature doesn’t only work with Google Home but also lets you send broadcasts from Google Assistant on your phone even when you’re out of the home. Learn more about Google Assistant here. 

Amazon recently launched a similar feature, called Alexa Announcements, for Echo devices, which acts like a one-way intercom system, letting you send a message to every Echo on a network. It built on the two-way intercom addition, made last summer, which lets Echo users speak directly to an individual Echo on a network. 

Add multiple users

Google Home was updated in the UK in June with software enabling it to differentiate between voices so multiple people can use the same device. Up to six people can connect their own Google accounts, and the device will be able to pull up their individual information like calendars and playlists.

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This setting requires the latest version of the Google Home app to be installed, then multiple users can be added by finding the “multi-user is available” card, and selecting ‘”Link your account”. Each new user has to teach Google Home what they sound like by saying “Ok Google” and “Hey Google” twice each.

Many of the basic tasks like setting alarms, timers and adding items to your shopping list will be available for any of the six registered users.

Voice Match 

Google Home recently added the option to register multiple voices on the same device. This means you can control your own individual Google account as well as your own separate media accounts on a single speaker.

To set up Voice Match, each person needs to link one of their Google Accounts and voice to Google Home. If you have a personal Google Account and a work Google Account, you must choose which account you want to hear personal information for.

To set up Voice Match, update the Google Home app and open it once it’s been updated. You can learn more about Voice Match here. 

  1. Make sure your phone or tablet is connected to the same Wi-Fi network as Google Home.
  2. Tap Menu and make sure the Google Account listed is the one you want to link to your voice. To switch accounts, click the triangle next to the Account name and choose the correct Account.
  3. In the top right corner of the app’s Home screen, tap Devices and select the device you’re setting up with Voice Match.
  4. From the device card, tap “Multi user is now available”, ‘Link your account”, or “Get personal results with Voice Match”
  5. If you’ve never set up Voice Match before, follow the prompts to teach your Assistant to recognise your voice.
  6. ​If you’ve set up Voice Match before, tap Continue.
  7. To invite others to set up Voice Match for tailored results, tap Invite.

Once set up, you can link your default music and video services, including Netflix. 

Google Assistant has had support for Netflix for some time, but it recently added a small but signficant update to the partnership. Previously, you could only pair one person’s Netflix account to a single Google Home device to beam to your TV using a Chromecast. This can cause problems if you have two people watching separate shows who want to pick up where they left off. It can also cause issues with recommendations and ratings. 

If This Then That (IFTTT)

Some of Google Home’s most useful abilities use the way it can pair with other tools, allowing you to create custom commands, for which there are many tutorials online. This uses the creation software If This Then That (IFTTT). Google Assistant’s Tasker app can then integrate these commands.

Music and video

Google Home works with a number of popular streaming apps including Google Play Music, Spotify, and Netflix. Google Play Music will automatically work with the Google account used to sign into Google Home during setup. 

You’ll need to have separate Spotify and Netflix accounts, however. Once these accounts are set up, you can enable these apps via the Google Home app.

Play games

One of the best ways to ‘play’ with your Google Home is via Mad Libs but there are also a number of other tricks. Try asking Google to “Play Lucky Trivia”, “Crystal ball”, or “What are your Easter eggs?” and you’ll be treated a trove of fun ways to pass the time.  

Start your car

Increasingly, new products are coming out with compatibility with the device. For example, if you own a Hyundai, you can use Google Home to start your car. Through the company’s Blue Link Agent, which launched on the company’s 2012 Sonata model, a few controls of the car can be controlled remotely using the digital assistant. This includes starting the car, setting the temperature and putting a destination address in for your next journey.

Vacuum your house

At IFA 2017, it was announced that Neato’s newest robot vacuum cleaner will be compatible with Google Home, Alexa and IFTTT. The Neato D7 Connected will cost £799/$799/€899 and be available in the US and Europe at the end of this year. 

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