How to add and control devices with Google Assistant and Google Home

Learn to manage your smart home, the Google way

How to connect devices to Google Home
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The Google Assistant is a master at connecting to other devices in the smart home, using speakers like the Google Home as a proxy to control lights, locks and more.

However, learning how to add devices to Google can be confusing to start with. How do you add devices, and which ones are compatible? These are natural questions to ask when you're first starting out.

Related reading: Google Home tips for beginners

With this guide, we'll go through each step in detail. Before you know it, you'll be using your Google Home to control Philips Hue lights, changing the temperature on your Google Nest thermostat and much more.

How to add and control lights and devices with Google Assistant

Add a device to Google Assistant

Before we get started, we'll assume you already have a smart speaker with Google Assistant built in up and running.

The important thing is that you've already got this hub device connected – the rest of your tech will be compatible with the Assistant, but won't actually listen to your voice commands. In order to do this, you will have downloaded the Google Home app on your iOS or Android device.

1. Set up the device

First, set up the smart home device according to the manufacturer's instructions. Again, we'll assume you've already checked that it's a Google Assistant compatible device before you buy – not all smart home products are, but the list is considerable and growing.

Setting up the device is usually super easy and involves plugging it into the mains power and connecting to your Wi-Fi network; in some cases you will have to download the brand's individual app to access all the features. But once you've got going with voice, you may not need to deal with that app again.

It's also worth noting that if the device needs a bridge (like Philips Hue), you'll need to set this up first.

2. Add the device in the app

How to add and control lights and devices with Google Assistant

Now, open up the Google Home app. Make sure you're signed into the same Google account that's linked to Assistant on the smart speaker. On the main screen, under where it says "Home", you'll see an Add button. Tap on that, then click on Set up device, which has a blue plus sign next to it.

Here, you'll have two choices. The first choice is setting up a new device, which is only for Google's own devices and Made for Google devices, like the C by GE bulbs. If you proceed here, it'll scan your home for the device and then prompt you to join it to your Wi-Fi network.

Alternatively, if you have a device from a third party, like Philips Hue, then you need to click Have something already set up? – you will see any devices that have already been linked listed here, grouped by brand, but you'll also be able to choose from a list of Works with Google brands to add your new kit.

Find the one you're looking for, select and follow the device maker's instructions. Usually, you'll just need to sign in to your account. You're expected to have installed the device before coming to this part of the process. Hit Done when you're done and the device will show up in the Devices tab.

If the device isn't connecting, check that the specific product is compatible with Google Assistant; check it's powered on; check your phone is connected to the same Wi-Fi network and the same Google account as your main home Assistant (this can be multiple with Voice Match) and then, if it's still not working, delete and re-install the app or turn off/hard reset your Assistant speaker.

3. Rename devices in the Google app

How to add and control lights and devices with Google Assistant

The new Google Home app shows all your devices – categorised by room – on the home screen, giving you a much clearer overview of your smart home. Tap on one of those devices. Depending on what it is, some controls may pop up – like a volume controller for a smart speaker – in which case, tap the cog icon in the top-right to go to the device settings. You'll now see a place to name your device. With some devices, tapping on them from the home screen will take you straight to the device settings

You can change the names of the products to make it easier to control them with conversational voice commands with phrases like "big living room lamp", rather than annoying product names. Just tap the device you want to change, enter the new text, then hit Save.

4. Add a device to a room

Where Alexa has Groups, Google Assistant has Rooms. Each of these is shown on the home screen, but you can choose what devices are assigned where.

To assign a device to a specific room, click on the name of the room on the home screen, then tap the cog icon in the top right of the screen. Select Choose devices and you'll be able to add and remove as you please. Alternatively, you can click on an individual device and choose the room you want to assign it.

Want to add a new room? Tap on an existing device or a new one that's yet unassigned, hit the cog icon to go to the device settings, then tap on Room. You'll see all the existing rooms plus loads more you can add instead.

And should you want to rename a room entirely, tap on the room name on the home screen, then go to the room settings via the cog icon, tap on the room name and enter whatever you please.

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