The Best Google Home Commands
The trickiest part about a voice-based assistant is knowing exactly what you can ask it. While you can always say to Google Home "What can I ask you?" or check out the Things to Ask section of the Google Home app in order to get some suggestions, it can be tough to figure out which of those Google Home commands are actually useful.
Never fear. We've rounded up some of the handiest Google Home commands, both for features that are built right in as well as those offered by third parties through Google's growing ecosystem.
Google Home can provide guided relaxation. Say, "Hey, Google, talk to Headspace," and the Headspace app will guide you through a refreshing meditation after connecting to your Headspace account. Even if you don't have a Headspace subscription, you'll still have access to a few basic exercises.
Plan your skin-care routine
Liv at Estée Lauder, a virtual beauty assistant, can help you find the skin-care routine that's right for you based on your skin goals, your skin's condition and the time you have available. Liv will recommend products, teach you how to construct your nightly ritual and remind you to start your routine each night. You'll be able to pick up free samples of Estée Lauder products to start out (but you can also use your own).
Help your kids with their homework
Sometimes, your kids' homework is too hard — even for you. Luckily, nothing is too hard for Google. Say, "Hey, Google, it's homework time," and Google will help by translating words, teaching you idioms, telling you about historical events, summarizing a book and more.
Finally, Google can order Starbucks. With the Starbucks command, you'll link your Google account to your Starbucks account. Then, you'll be able to order anything you'd like from the coffee chain and choose the store where you want to pick it up. Google will learn your order over time, so you'll eventually be able to say, "Hey, Google, ask Starbucks to order my usual."
Make a doctor's appointment
Google can answer your questions about dental and vision providers and help you find one that's right for you. The MetLife command can estimate how much various procedures will cost — try "Hey, Google, how much does a root canal cost in Wisconsin?" You can also ask Google to list dental or vision providers in your area that will take your insurance plan. You can also include other specifications, such as by saying, "Hey, Google, find me a dentist in New York who speaks Spanish."
Practice a language
If you're learning English as a second language, Google can help you practice speaking it in real-life scenarios with My Berlitz Coach, based on the widely used Berlitz method. Say, "Hey, Google, talk to my Berlitz coach." You'll get various scenarios, such as ordering a drink on a flight or having a conversation with a friendly stranger. You'll get multiple-choice answers for each question, accompanied by pictures on your smartphone.
Report a crime
Reporting a crime can be stressful. Google will help you do this instantly and completely anonymously. Say, "OK, Google, talk to Reported San Francisco." You can not only can you report incidents to local police, but you can also ask Google for a list of the incidents that other users have reported, sorted by location, time and classification. This app is currently available only for San Francisco, but developers say it will expand to other cities in the future.
Pick your lottery number
Feeling lucky? Say, "OK, Google, give me a random number for Powerball," and you'll get a randomized number customized for a lottery of your choice. In the U.S., this skill supports Powerball, Lotto America, 2by2, All or Nothing, Cash4Life, Luck for Life, and Mega Millions. In the U.K. and E.U., Google can help you out with Euro Millions, Thunderball, Lotto, Euro Jackpot, and SuperEnalotto. This command also supports lotteries in Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Japan, Australia, Canada, South Korea, Mexico and China. If Google doesn't have the lottery you're looking for, you can also provide the number of figures you need and the largest and smallest number to allow.
Read a story
Reading a book to your kids? Google Home will play background music and sound effects to complement the story. The command is available for 15 Disney children's books, including classics like The Three Little Pigs, Alice in Wonderland and Cinderella, as well as new favorites such as Moana, Frozen and Toy Story 3. Say "Hey Google, let's read along with Disney," and Google will play music and effects to match your words, adjusting to your pace and pausing when you pause. Google can also tell you a story on both Google Home speakers and smartphones. Say "Hey, Google, tell me a story."Credit: Silver Screen Collection/Getty
Looking for that perfect mood music? Google Home can play tunes from six music services: Google Play Music, YouTube Music, Spotify, Pandora, Deezer and radio services including TuneIn, iHeartRadio, ESPN Radio, NPR and other local stations. Just say "OK, Google, play some jazz" or "Hey, Google, play AC/DC on Google Play Music," and Google Home will start playing the tunes of your choice. Google Assistant can also stream Apple Music on iOS devices. (To link with YouTube Music or Spotify, you'll need a premium account, while Google Play Music and Pandora offer only radio features without a premium account.)
If you have a smart display (such as a Google Home Hub), lyrics will appear on the screen so you can better sing along.
Turn on your lights
If your house is equipped with smart lights, such as those from Philips or Sengled, you can turn them on or off with nothing more than Google Home and the power of your voice. Of course you can say, "Turn on bedroom" and "Turn off office," but those are just the basics; you can also say, "Dim the office lamp" or "Brighten the living room" or "Set the bedroom lights to 50 percent." And, even better, if you've got lights that support changing colors, you can even say, "OK, Google, turn the desk lamp green."
Credit: Diz Play/Unsplash
Wouldn't it be great if you could just say the name of the show you want to watch and have it pop up on your TV? If you've got a Chromecast or a TV with a built-in Chromecast, you can do just that. Here's how to connect your Chromecast device to Google Home.
After, you'll be able to say, "OK, Google, play 'The Crown' on Netflix" or "Hey, Google, watch 'Westworld' on TV" and have the show cued up for you. You can even use Google Home to pause, play, skip to the next episode and turn on subtitles. Or, if you have a Logitech Harmony remote, you can change channels by speaking to your Google Home device.
Make a phone call
Using your Google Home device, you can make phone calls to people in your contacts, businesses, or by speaking the number out loud. You can even request a buiness by name, such as "Joe's Pizza." However, there are some restrictions. Currently, this service currently only works for calls within the U.S., Canada and the UK. You can't use it to call emergency services; and you can only call 1-900 or international numbers if your Google account is linked to a Google Fi or Google Voice number with credits.
Change the temperature
When you're huddled beneath a blanket on the couch in the dead of winter, you don't even want to get up and go to the thermostat. If you've got a smart thermostat, such as a Nest, Ecobee4 or a supported Honeywell, you can adjust the temperature with Google Home. Once you've configured the two to work together, you'll be able to say, "OK, Google, set the heat to 70 degrees or "Hey, Google, raise the temperature 2 degrees." You can also set the thermostat for a specific room, or even just ask what the current temperature is set to.
Remember where you left your keys
If you're like me, you sometimes put things you don't want to lose in the perfect place — and then you forget where that place is. Next time, just ask Google Assistant to keep track of them. Say, "OK, Google, remember that I hid my passport in the hollowed-out Bible," and Google Home will remember for you. Then, when you've inevitably forgotten where it is, simply ask where your passport is and it'll tell you. You can even ask what you've asked Google Home to remember, in case you're even having trouble with that.
Ask about flights
Is a friend or family member coming in on a flight? You can check on the status of that person's plane if you don't have your smartphone or computer handy. Just ask Google, "What's the status of Alaska Flight 15?" or "When does Delta 639 arrive?" to get a quick answer to your question — no typing required.
Tune into your favorite radio station
It may seem like video killed the radio star, but Google Home can still handle your old-school media. Just say, "OK, Google, play KQED" or "Hey, Google, play 90.9," and it will start streaming that radio station for you. Sure beats fiddling with that old tuner knob.
Get a translation
Did you know your Google Assistant is multilingual? If you're trying to hearken back to your high-school French and remember what exactly the word is for "computer," Google Home can help you out. Just say, "OK, Google, what's computer in French?" and you'll get a translation, complete with pronunciation. The Assistant leverages the power of Google Translate to speak several languages, including Italian, Spanish, Chinese, Russian and more.
If it's a web-connected device, there's a way to order pizza on it. Domino's offers a number of options, from creating and ordering a pizza to retrieving your most recent orders and tracking an incoming order. You will need to link your Domino's account to your Google Home to get access to all the features, but once it's set up, you'll be able to order a pizza with just a few words.
Mix a drink
Need to know what ingredients go into a Sidecar or a Long Island Iced Tea? The Bartender service is at your, well, service. Not only can it provide ingredients and instructions for a drink that you name, but it can also suggest cocktails based on ingredients that you provide, or give you a random cocktail from among its catalog of more than 12,000 — if you're in the mood for a surprise.
Play white noise or ambient sounds
If you like to fall asleep to the sound of a waterfall, rain storm, or cracking fire, the Google Home can act as your white noise machine. If you don't care what it plays, simply tell it to play ambient noise, or say "help me relax." If you want to pick a specific sound, check out of how-to, or ask Google "What other ambient sounds do you know?"
Answer trivia questions
Google, of course, is supposed to be the repository of all human knowledge, so it's no surprise that the voice-based assistant can pull up that information to quiz you about facts. Say, "OK, Google, ask me a trivia question" to have Google Assistant ask you a random trivia question. You'll get a few possible answers to choose from, and a simulated audience will either applaud or boo you, depending on how well you do. It's just like being on Jeopardy! — but without Alex Trebek.
Credit: ABC/Courtesy of Everett Collection
Watch YouTube Videos
If you have a Google Home Hub, you can watch YouTube videos with just your voice. Say "OK, Google, play a cat video," or "Hey, Google, play a Sephora makeup tutorial," and Google will pull up the content you're looking for. You can also tell Google to pause, skip or rewind the video while you're watching.
Credit: Tom's Guide
Learn something interesting
Speaking of random facts, if you want to bolster your trivia skills, Google Home can help you there as well. Just say, "OK, Google, tell me something interesting," and the assistant will pull up a random fact, like "Vampire hunters are usually born on Saturdays." Okay, nobody said it was *useful* — just interesting.
Plan a trip
Looking to get away? Using the Kayak service on Google Home, you can search for flights, hotels and rental cars without lifting a finger. You'll be able to find the cheapest flights to a specific destination on the dates of your choice, find new destinations to visit and even get up-to-date status notifications about particular flights.
Credit: Suhyeon Choi/Unsplash
If you have the Google Home Hub, just say, "Okay, Google, show me recipes," and a list compiled from Allrecipes, Food Network, Taste of Home and more will appear on the screen. Google will also soon recommend recipes, based on time and season, on Home Hub's home screen, and allow you to save recipes to your personal cookbook for future use.
Credit: Tom's Guide
See who's at the door
When paired with the Nest Hello doorbell camera, your Google Home device can announce the name of the visitor, if you have assigned a name to that person's face. To enable this, you have to turn on familiar face alerts in the Nest app, and also turn on visitor announcements. You can also use the Nest app to speak to your visitor (or shoo away intruders).
We don't think about artificial intelligences as having a sense of rhythm or music, but Google Home can actually lay down a pretty sick beat — or, at least, it knows someone who can. If you ask Google Home to beatbox for you, it will play audio of someone beatboxing — and the beat changes every time you ask.
Get Baby Tips
Your Google Home can answer all of your questions about breastfeeding. Say "Okay, Google, talk to Breastfeeding Friend," and you'll get quick tips and advice about breastfeeding, from duration and frequency to the vitamins and diet you need. The advice is tailored to your child's age.
With a smart display, such as a Google Home Hub or a Lenovo Smart Display, you can very easily share your favorite photos with anyone in your Google contacts list through Google Photos. Once you've pulled the photo up on your screen, say "Hey, Google, share this photo with Hannah."
Credit: Phil Michaels/Tom's Guide
Create custom commands with IFTTT
If Google Home doesn't already do what you want, the good news is that you can create your own custom commands for it using the IFTTT web service. Once you've linked Google Home to IFTTT, you can make a command to automatically send a text or an email, post to a web site, control a smart home appliance or interact with any other web service that IFTTT supports.
Learn about beer and wine
The Wine Guide will ask you what kind of food you're having and then will come up with what kind of wine you should be looking for. It can even come up with pairing for that pizza you ordered from Domino's!
Target works with Google Express shopping service in the U.S., so the next time you need to order a bag of tortilla chips, or some sensibly priced home furnishings, you merely need to ask Google Assistant. Google Express is available for Google Home, Android TV and Android and iOS devices. Oh, and you can use Google Express to shop at a number of other stores too, including Walmart, Home Depot, Best Buy, Sephora, Costco and Bed Bath & Beyond. You can also use Google Home to make your shopping list. Say, "Hey, Google, add flour to my shopping list" to make sure you're up to date when you head to the store.