How to use the new Google Home app

Tips for getting around Google's redesigned smart home controls

A guide to the new Google Home app

Google has rolled out its new Home app to Android and iOS users, and it's quite an overhaul.

We wouldn't say the Home app was feeling old, more that it was just a bit of a mess. But the new app changes that, rearranging everything into a much simpler, cleaner and easier-to-use smart home companion.

Read this: Google Assistant essential guide

It arrives just in time for the Google Home Hub, and that's no coincidence. Some of the new features of the Home Hub also feature in the new Home app, namely Home View, which gives you a much clearer look at all your connected devices in a glance.

But this also means learning your way around the Home app all over again. Thankfully, it's all pretty easy to use once you know how, so we've put together this guide to chaperone you through the new features and setup, throwing in a few helpful tips along the way.


The new Home screen

The key mission of the new Home app is to make sure it knows what everything in your home is doing at any one time. The first tab of the app gives you exactly that. This is what Google now calls Home View, and it puts all your connected devices in one place.

At the top you’ll find a bunch of toggles called Quick Actions. Depending on what devices you have connected, you’ll see different Quick Actions show up here. For example, if you have a Nest or Ecobee smart thermostat connected to your Assistant, a little thermostat button will show up here.

Tapping on any of these will open up a control panel. Tap your thermostat and it will show you the current set temperature and let you adjust it. You’ll be able to make other changes in here too. For example, with a connected Nest thermostat you can also change the heating and cooling mode from within the Quick Action.

Same goes for any connected cameras or doorbells you might have: tapping the Quick Action button should bring up a livestream direct to the app, so long as it’s a camera that supports this function. But note that you won’t get the full range of options and flexibility as you might in the device’s own app. Philips Hue will let you adjust the brightness but not flex the full range of colour options – you’ll need to open the Hue app to do that.

One button that will be there no matter what is the new Broadcast button, which lets you send a message out to all of your Google Home speakers. Time for dinner? Tell Assistant to get the word out.

Below Quick Actions you’ll find all of your smart home kit categorised by the rooms they’ve been assigned. This lets you quickly adjust the settings for your connected tech. Note too that when you open these controls, the cog icon that appears in the top right will let you modify aspects like the device name (important for when you're controlling via voice) and its assigned room.

Home View is really the heart of the new app: it’s where you’re going to spend most of your time. It also allows you to see the state of your devices when you're away.


Discover

The Discover tab will be your second-most visited part of the new app. Any devices in your home that haven’t yet been set up will show here, prompting you to add them to the rest of the connected family.

But Discover also gives you a nice overview of what media is playing on your Google devices right now. So any music playing on your Google Home speakers or any videos being Cast to your TV will show up here, with quick buttons to pause or stop playback. Tap the card of something playing and you’ll also have access to the progress bar and the equalizer. But if you want the more granular controls, you’ll need to open up the music app you’re playing from.

If you have a connected Chromecast or Smart Display, you can change the Ambient mode here and delve into some of the other display settings.

Top tip: If you have music playing from a supported service on one speaker already (even if it’s not a Google Home speaker) and want to switch it to a Google Home speaker, just tap the Play music button under the speaker in Home View and it will migrate. Even if you’re playing over AirPlay to another device, the switchover should be seamless.

Add devices in the new Google Home app

If a new device shows up in the Discover tab, there will be a Set Up button on the card. Simply tap that and the app will guide you through the rest of the process. However, you can also add a new device using the Add button in the Quick Actions section of the home screen. Click the link above for a more detailed explainer on adding and editing devices to your Google ecosystem.

Browse

The Browse tab is a way for Google to surface media that’s compatible with your connected devices. That means video that can be played on a Chromecast device – YouTube videos, Netflix movies – and music that can be played on a Google Home speaker. If you have Spotify you’ll see popular current music as well as your playlists. Tap on a playlist or a YouTube video and you’ll be rerouted to the appropriate app; you won’t Cast directly from the Home app itself.

It will also suggest Cast-compatible apps you don’t already own. And that’s… pretty much all you need to know about this part of the app.

Room with a view: Your guide to the new Google Home app

Creating routines in the new Google Home app

Routines are one of the cornerstones of any smart home, and the new Google Home app makes it easier to get these working. To get to them, hit the Settings button on the home screen, then head to More settings, where you'll find the Routines button under the Assistant tab.

From this point on everything in the app works just like it used to, allowing you to set routines triggered by commands or that start at certain times/days of the week. Click the link above for a more in-depth look at building routines in the Home app.

Account settings

The final tab in the app covers all your account settings. This is where you can switch between Google accounts, should you want to create different profiles. This means the experience will be personalised for whoever is signed on.

The local devices menu gives you a look at all the devices on your current network. Tapping on these will bring up the same controls you get when accessing through the Home View screen, but here they're all bunched together, rather than grouped by room.

There are some other options here which we think are worth highlighting. One is the My activity button, which shows you a history of all your interactions with the Assistant, which you can delete in the app. This is also where you can view your shopping list, if you've been dictating your shopping list to the Google Assistant.

Finally, if you head to More settings you'll see things have also been rearranged into options for Personal, Assistant and Services. Here you can do things like add your home address, change the Assistant voice and set up your Google Home speakers to make voice calls.


Our recommended Google Home compatible devices

Lifx smart light bulb
Lifx smart light bulb
Amazon
£51.98
TP-Link Kasa smart Wi-Fi plug
TP-Link Kasa smart Wi-Fi plug
Amazon
£33.94
Nest Cam Indoor
Nest Cam Indoor
Amazon
£162.00
Philips Hue starter pack
Philips Hue starter pack
Amazon
£59.99

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