How to add and control lights and devices with Google Assistant

Add, connect and control your smart home tech with Google's ecosystem

How to add devices to Google Assistant

One of the most useful things a Google Assistant smart speaker, like the Google Home, can do is to control your connected home devices. But getting smart devices hooked up can seem confusing.

Smart speakers, together with apps like Google Home, mean you can control smart light bulbs, thermostats, cameras and appliances with your voice, not to mention any old tech that's connected to the system via a smart plug.

Here's how to get everything connected and working with Google Assistant.

Our recommended Google Home compatible devices

Lifx smart light bulb
Lifx smart light bulb
Kasa smart Wi-Fi plug mini - $4 off
Kasa smart Wi-Fi plug mini - $4 off
Nest Cam IQ
Nest Cam IQ
Philips Hue starter pack
Philips Hue starter pack

How to add smart home devices to Google Assistant

Before we get started, we'll assume you already have a smart speaker with Google Assistant built in up and running. Well, we say smart speaker, but the voice assistant can these days be found in all sorts of devices, including the Nest Cam IQ Indoor. The important thing is that you've already got this controller 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, or someone else in your house, will have downloaded the Google Home app on your smartphone. If this wasn't you, download it now. (This also applies if you don't have a speaker but you're using Assistant purely on your phone/tablet).

How to add and control lights and devices with Google Assistant

Set up the device

Next, 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, soon to include ovens, fridges, coffee machines and even toilets.

This 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.

Also worth noting, if the device/s need a bridge, you'll need to set this up too first.

Add the device in the app

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.

How to add and control lights and devices with Google Assistant

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.

Rename your devices in the Google Home app

The new Google Home app shows all your devices - categorized 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 of the screen 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 test, then hit Save.

How to add and control lights and devices with Google Assistant

Set up Rooms

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 - eg Bedroom - on the home screen, then tap the cog icon in the top right hand side 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 homesceen, then go to the room settings via the cog icon, tap on the room name and enter whatever you please.

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