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Try these Google Home tips to make your life easier

Are you taking full advantage of your Google Assistant? These tips will up your smart home game.

Having a Google Assistant at home in the form of a smart speaker or smart display can be a huge help. Whether it's asking for recipe measurement conversions, checking your commute or catching up on a sports score, there's plenty your voice assistant can do. If you've mastered the basics and you're ready for a more integrated experience, here are five ways to get more out of your Google Assistant.

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Create custom commands

Google will respond to a wide variety of questions and commands, but let's say you want something very specific. Maybe you could use a timer for brushing your teeth or want to sync up specific smart lights and your favorite playlist for a workout. This is where Google's routines come in handy. You can create your own custom command that triggers multiple Google Assistant tasks.

To set up a routine, start with the Google Home app. Tap Routines from the main page, then select Manage routines. You'll notice there are a handful of ready made options, so check those out first before creating your own. Next, select Add a routine, and select the actions you'd like the Google Assistant to perform when you say your custom voice command (something like, "OK, Google: It's workout time"). 

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Use Google as a remote control

Did you know Google can control your TV? Forget the days of reaching for the remote. All you need is a command like, "Hey Google, play Twin Peaks on the Main TV."

To set this up, you'll need either a compatible smart TV or a $35 Chromecast HDMI video streamer. Connect your TV or streamer to your Google Home app, give it a name like "bedroom TV" and sync your streaming services if you didn't when you initially set up your smart speaker. 

To do that, tap the letter in the upper-right corner of the app. Then, go to Assistant settings. Go to services, then videos and photos. Sign in with your account like your Netflix account.

You might need to change a setting on your TV so that Google can turn it on with a voice command. That setting is called CEC (consumer electronics control), and it's usually off by default. Be sure to check the settings of your TV to make sure it's enabled.

Once that's done, you're all set to go. Just ask Google to play your favorite show. 


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Out of something around the house but don't want to run to the store? You can do your shopping from your Google Assistant, too.

You can shop through Google Shopping, formerly known as Google Express. Google has a lot of partners, including Target, Best Buy and Walmart, so you can choose your preferred retailer. To shop, you'll need to first authorize Google Assistant to make payments and set up a payment method in the Google Home app.

To confirm purchases, you'll need to pass a security check. You can choose options like a PIN or voice match. Voice matching is easily fooled, so make sure you're comfortable with the level of security you choose. When you do this, pick security measures you're comfortable with. You can verify a purchase with a pin code that you set up.

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Find your phone

We've all been there. Your phone is missing. You've checked the couch cushions and every hiding place with no luck. If you have an Android smartphone, Google Assistant can find it, even if it's on silent. You phone does need to be on with either a mobile data or Wi-Fi connection with location services enabled.

You also need the Find my Device app. Once everything is set up, you can say, "Hey Google, find my phone," to hear your phone ring until you can follow the sound to its hiding place. 

Have an iPhone? No worries. This feature works with iPhones too, though only if the ringer is on. Find everything you need in the privacy settings in the Google Home app. Hit Phone, then Add recovery phone. Walk through the next steps and Google will be able to call your phone if it's lost. 

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Schedule commands

Remember those routines we set up back at the beginning? You can schedule them to turn on at specific times of day. That means you can have your lights gently fade on before your alarm goes off in the morning or automatically lock the doors at night with a smart lock

Scheduling is great for simpler tasks, too. Set regular reminders to order supplies, do a workout or call your family members. If you're headed out of town on vacation, scheduling lights to turn on and off is a great way to deter intruders with the illusion of an occupied home. 

To schedule your routines, head to the routines setup menu. At the top, instead of adding a command, add a time and day.

With these helpful tips in hand, you can make your smart home work smarter for you. Whether it's ordering last-minute household supplies, catching up on your favorite TV shows or finding that elusive smartphone, Google Assistant has plenty of tricks up its sleeve to make your life easier.