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Control Your Google Smart Home With These Easy Tips and Tricks

Your Nest Mini can do a lot more than tell you the weather forecast. Control your whole house with Google Assistant.

Nest Audio
Juan Garzon/CNET

You've probably interacted with Google Assistant before, especially if you have a Google Pixel or another Android phone. Maybe you've asked what the weather is going to be like or how to get directions to a restaurant for date night. But Google Assistant can do a lot more, including controlling your entire smart home. 

Whether you're using Google's Pixel phone, Nest Audio or Nest Mini smart speakers, Nest Hub smart display or any of a slew of other Google Nest devices, you already have everything that you need in order to start controlling your house. All you need to do is connect your devices so you can control them through Google Assistant. Here are some of the best tips and tricks for how to get the most out of the Google Assistant smart home experience.

Get connected

Before you can control your light bulbs or pull up the live feed of your Nest Video Doorbell, you'll need to connect them, and whatever smart speaker or display you'd like to use, to your Google Home account. Doing so is easy, and if you're using Nest brand devices, you'll almost certainly have already done it. If your smart speaker or display is connected to the same account, you'll be able to control the device with straightforward commands, like, "Hey, Google, turn off the kitchen lights."

If your devices are Google Home-compatible, but you haven't connected them to the Google Home app, doing so is easy. Open the app and tap the + (plus sign) in the top left corner. Then tap Set up device > Works with Google. Select the device maker from the list (Wyze, for instance), and follow the directions to connect your gadget.

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Google Assistant plus a smart thermostat like this one from Nest can even help you save money by conserving energy.

Chris Monroe/CNET

Voice control is just the beginning

Once you've got a device that uses Google Assistant, the sky is the limit for smart home control. You can improve your home security with everything from smart locks and security cameras to connecting with professionally installed security services like ADT. You can control your lights, thermostat and appliances with a voice command. But that's only scratching the surface. Here's how you can get even more out of these integrations.

Set up Routines to stay on track

Your day has a rhythm to it, and interruptions to that routine can seriously derail your plans. Your smart home can help to facilitate those patterns, accomplishing recurring tasks that you find yourself needing to tackle day in and day out. All you need to do is set up a Routine.

Setting up Routines with Google Assistant is easy. Open the Google Home app and tap on Routines. There you'll find a number of ready-made routines that can be tweaked to your own personal needs and triggered with a predetermined command. 

If you want to wake up to a specific song or have certain lights and appliances turned on for you when your start your day, for example, set up the Good Morning routine. Once you've customized the Routine, hit save. Now any time you say, "Hey, Google, good morning," it will automatically run your Routine.

You can also build custom Routines. To do this, open the Google Home app, select Routines, and tap the + button to create a new Routine. From here, you can set your trigger -- a voice command, a particular time of day or a specific action -- and tell Google Assistant what you want to happen within the routine. Under "This Routine will…," use the + button to add new actions to the Routine.

Hit save and Google Assistant will perform your new routine anytime that you trigger it. 

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Tile trackers can help you keep track of easy-to-misplace personal effects -- and Google Assistant can help you find them with a simple voice command.

Tile

Never lose something at home again

We've all experienced that panicked feeling of not being able to find our keys, phone, wallet or other important item when we're already running late for an event. You don't have to give yourself the full pat-down to see if you have the item on you or start ripping up couch cushions trying to find it. Just ask Google Assistant for help. 

There are two ways to keep track of those items that just always seem to get misplaced. First, use a Tile tracker -- a small fob that connects to your keyring, your phone or whatever else you want. Then, if you've misplaced your keys, just say, "OK, Google, ring my keys," and you'll get a little chirpy ringtone to help you find them.

If you don't have a Tile tracker, Google can still help you out: When you want to remember where you're stashing something, say, "OK, Google, remember that I put my keys in the top drawer," or wherever else you're putting it. Google Assistant will remember for you. Then, when you can't find that object, just say, "OK, Google, where are my keys?" and Google Assistant will remind you exactly where you left them.

Make Google Assistant your remote

You can think of the Google Assistant as the universal remote for your smart home -- but it can be your actual television remote, too. If you have a smart TV with Google TV built in -- or just a Chromecast connected to your regular TV -- you can play your favorite movies and shows with simple voice commands. Just say, "OK, Google, play Stranger Things on [your preferred TV]," and Google Assistant will queue up the show. You can change what you're watching, control the volume and even tell Google Assistant to switch to another TV if you're changing rooms.

Set up Night Mode for quieter evenings

As things slow down in the evening -- and the kids finally get to bed -- sounds that at other times seem normal can seem startlingly loud. That includes Google Assistant's voice. If you're finding the voice assistant is just louder than you want as you're starting to settle in for your nighttime routine, you can turn on Night Mode and have everything automatically made quieter.

Open the Google Home app, tap SettingsNotifications > Digital Wellbeing. From here, you can enable Night Mode. This will lower the volume of any smart device and dim the lights of any smart lighting that you have connected to your Google Assistant.

There is so much that you can do with your Google Nest devices and Google Assistant to control your Google smart home. We've just scratched the surface of all the capabilities that the smart assistant brings to controlling everything throughout your connected living space. 

For more information about using a Google Home device, check out: