One of the most useful things a Google Assistant smart speaker, like the Google Home, can do is to control your connected home devices. So we thought we'd begin at the beginning and take you through, step by step, how to set up your Google powered smart home.
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.
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 is starting to pop up in other devices with microphones such as 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).
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.
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. Go to Menu - the three 'hamburger' lines in the top left, then to Home Control - with the bulb icon next to it.
Head to Devices, then click the blue 'add' icon in the bottom left hand corner. You will see any devices that have already been added listed here, grouped by brand e.g. Philips Hue or rooms - more on that in a minute.
Once you're on the Add devices screen, you'll get a big, long list of brands to choose from. Find the one you're looking for, select and follow the device maker's instructions - you'll probably need to sign in to your account with that manufacturer here. 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
In the Devices list - navigated to from Menu, Home Control and then Device. 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, then hit 'Tap to set nickname' and enter the new text.
Set up Rooms
Where Alexa has Groups, Google Assistant has Rooms. If you've been poking around in the Devices tab of the Google Home app, you'll have already seen this.
To assign a device to a specific room, either click Rooms to add a new room then fill it in with devices. Or tap on the device itself and then hit an existing room, add a room from Google's generic list of suggestions or scroll down to the bottom to select 'Customised Room'. Then enter your own room name and click Done.
In the Devices tab, any products that haven't been assigned to a room will be under 'Unassigned'.
To move a device, go to the Room it's currently in, find the device then click 'Move' and select the room it's moving to. It's all pretty straightforward. You can edit the Room name at the top of the 'Edit room' screen and you can also delete the Room by clicking the trash can 'Delete' icon on the same screen.