How to use Home and Away status for Google Home Routines

Use your Nest device or smartphone to trigger routines based on your location

Google Assistant: Use Home and Away status
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Google added Home and Away 'presence sensing' Routines to the mix at the end of last year and you should now have the option within your Google Home app on Android and iOS.

Home and Away Routines within the Google Home / Assistant ecosystem have been sorely lacking - especially since Google pulled the plug on the Works with Nest program.

When Google killed Works with Nest it effectively took some of the “smart” out of the smart home. Nest still had its Home/Away Assist mode, which used geofencing to operate your Nest devices, but the integrations with other devices, such as turning your Hue lights off when your Nest went into Away mode, were gone.

Ultimate guide: Setting up Google Home Routines

The good news is that it's now back. Here's how to get started...

Add Home and Away status to Google Assistant Routines

You should see the option to Set up Home & Away Routines pop up at the top of your Google Home app homescreen, if you've not already set it up yet.

Just tap this and go through the steps to decide what you want to happen based on your Home or Away status.

For example, you can have certain smart lights turn on when you arrive home, or have the heating turn off when you leave your abode.

Add Home and Away status to Google Assistant Routines

You'll also see a new option for Presence sensing in the settings menu. Tap the cog on the homescreen and you'll see it listed.

In this menu you'll be able to decide whether your smartphone can indicate to your Google Home whether you are home or away - based on its location - and you can also use other household member's smartphones for this too, if you've set up Google Home Voice Match.

What devices can determine your location and what devices can be included in Routines?

At the moment you can't control everything within your smart home ecosystem, but there are a number of different smart home devices from different brands listed. Such as...

  • Nest thermostats
  • Nest cameras
  • Smart lights
  • Smart plugs
  • Smart switches

Google states that "this list of devices will continue to grow to include other devices that are compatible with Google Assistant over time"

Presence sensing - i.e. determining whether you (and your household members) are at home or out and about - uses both your smartphone (using GPS and Wi-Fi) and smart home devices with motion sensors to configure the Home or Away status.

Google says it uses the following devices for the latter:

  • Nest Guard
  • Nest Secure tag
  • Nest Thermostats
  • Nest Protect (Wired)
  • Nest × Yale lock

One thing to be aware of though - you will have to migrate from a Nest to a Google account, if you haven’t already done so.

Unfortunately, there's still no word from Google on users being able to create routines based from third-party smart sensors; a feature we know is high on a lot of users' wishlist.

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