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Smart Home

Six Google Home routines are ready to roll

After teasing it for months, Google's first batch of routines is coming this week, letting you activate loads of smart home functions with one command.

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Control multiple devices with a single command to any Google Home smart speaker.

Chris Monroe/CNET

Google is one step closer to letting you control multiple smart home devices with a single command, according to a Google support page.

First spotted by Droid Life on Monday, the Google support page shows you how to set up what it calls "routines." The page says routines are available in the US, but not other countries. The update hasn't yet hit my personal Google Pixel, but a Google spokesperson confirmed that routines are "rolling out, to be completed by end of this week." 

With routines, you can say an associated command to your Google-equipped smart speaker or your phone, and you can trigger a variety of customized responses from turning off your smart lights and adjusting the thermostat at bedtime, to telling you about your agenda for the day and playing your favorite podcast when you wake up.

Routines will replace the "My Day" section in your settings of the Google Home app. For now, you'll have six options: good morning, bedtime, leaving home, I'm home, commuting to work and commuting home.

Each routine has unique elements. The commuting to work routine, for example, will automatically tell you about traffic on your commute. Both commuting routines can also only be triggered by a mobile device. The rest work with any device with Google's voice-activated digital assistant (just called Google Assistant) built-in.

Google first announced routines all the way back in October. It teased the feature at CES in January, then again at MWC in February

Google's routines are pretty similar to those of Alexa, Amazon's digital assistant. Amazon rolled out routines in October. Like Google's version of the feature, Alexa's routines can control various smart home devices with a single command, and tell you about the weather, the traffic and the news. Amazon actually lets you customize the wake words for your routines, but Google's routines offer automatic playback of music and podcasts. Amazon's routines don't.

Apple's Siri was the first major digital assistant that let you control multiple smart home devices with a single command. Apple's smart home platform HomeKit has offered the comparable "scenes" for years. The wake words for Apple's scenes are fully customizable, but you can only control smart-home devices. You can't program them to play music or tell you about the weather.

Google's playing catchup with its routines. Without customizable commands, it's still behind Apple and Amazon to an extent. That said, the six starting routines look more robust than what Apple and Amazon can do. I hope customizable commands won't be too far behind.