Google Home: 5 things you need to be asking your smart speaker

It can't do everything for you, but you might be surprised at the kinds of chores it can tackle.

Dale Smith Former Associate Writer
Dale Smith is a former Associate Writer on the How-To team at CNET.
Dale Smith
4 min read
Nest Audio

The new Nest Audio is the flagship Google Home smart speaker, replacing the 2016 original.

Juan Garzon/CNET

Your Google Home smart speaker can't help you do everything, but there's a good chance it can assist with a lot more than you might expect. Most people already know you can ask it to play your favorite music, to forecast the weather forecast or to set an alarm or timer. But what about finding your car keys? Or ordering your favorite hot drink at the nearby coffee shop? Bet you didn't know Google Home could do that stuff too. Keep reading, because there's a lot more where that came from.

Unlike with Amazon's Alexa, you don't have to download or install anything to add functions to Google Home. New features are added behind the scenes all the time and, usually, all you have to do to use them is just ask. ("Hey, Google , I need a recipe for sugar cookies," for example.) Other tricks, including a few of these tips, require only that you link an existing account to Google Home (which, as you'll see shortly, is pretty easy and quick to do).

So, hold your questions until the end, because there's a good chance Google Home is the one you should be asking for these five things it can surprisingly handle for you.


If you have a Tile tracker attached to your keys, you can ring it with your voice once you link it to Google Home.


Find your lost car keys two different ways

There are two ways to have Google Home find your car keys, depending on whether you use a Tile tracker. If you don't, the next time you put your keys in a drawer or anywhere else you don't normally stash them, just say, "Hey Google, remember that I put my keys under the kitchen sink [or wherever you put them]." Then, the next time you can't find them, say, "OK, Google, where did I put my keys" and Google Home will tell you.

If you have a Tile tracker on your keychain, even better. Google will be able to ring it for you so you can locate it.

1. Open the Google Home app, then tap the + sign in the upper-left corner, then choose Set up device, then tap Works with Google.

2. Tap the magnifying glass in the upper right corner, then type "Tile" and tap the Tile logo that appears beneath the search bar.

3. Log into Tile like you would from a browser and follow any onscreen prompts.

Now you can say, "Hey," or "OK, Google ring my keychain [or whatever you've named the Tile attached to your keys]." Next thing you know, your keys will start buzzing. This trick works for anything you've connected a Tile tracker to, like bookbags, pets, you name it.


Skip the line and order your favorite Starbucks drink from Google Home after you link your accounts.

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Use voice commands to order your favorite Starbucks drink 

Next time you're in a hurry and don't have time to wait around for your coffee order to be made, give Google Home your Starbucks order and it'll put it in for you so you can pick it up when it's ready. For this tip, you'll want to link your Starbucks account, so you'll need the Google Assistant app.

1. Open Google Assistant app and tap the compass icon in the lower-right corner.

2. Type "Starbucks" in the search bar, then tap the Starbucks logo that appears beneath the search bar, then tap Link, then tap Link Accounts.

If you're not signed into Starbucks on your phone, you'll have to enter your username and password, but for most people, everything else should happen automatically. From there, just say, "Hey" or "OK, Google, talk to Starbucks" and tell the virtual barista what you'd like to order.

google home crossword puzzle

Google Home is a whiz with words and can even help you out when solving word puzzles.

Dale Smith/CNET

Google Home is a powerful dictionary, thesaurus, calculator and more

Next time you're watching TV and a character says a word you've never heard before (like, "gasconading," or, "coruscant"), don't reach for a dictionary -- just ask Google Home what the word means. "OK, Google, what's the definition of 'anomalistic'?" or "Hey, Google, what does 'cupidity' mean?" Same thing if you need a thesaurus, a translation or help with a word game (check out our full article on all the neat things Google Home can do with language here).

Are you a whiz with words but not so much when it comes to math? Google Home's got you there, too. You can use Google Home as far more than a calculator, however -- it can count days, weeks or years; convert units of measurement; deal with distances and many other calculations (check out our full article on all the numbers Google Home can crunch here).

Let Google Home read your horoscope

You don't necessarily have to buy into astrology to get a kick out of hearing your horoscope. And if you don't like the way Google Home reads the stars for you the first time, it's easy to try again with a different service. Just say, "Hey, Google, what's my horoscope?" and it'll give you a list of horoscope providers it can pull from.


What's your sign? Tell Google Home and have your horoscope read.

Dale Smith/CNET

Brush up on some dad jokes

You know what makes a pun a dad joke, right? It's a-parent. (Boooo.) As a dad who loves punny one-liners, I am always on the lookout for the next great groaner. You can ask, "Hey," or "OK, Google, tell me a dad joke" to get started, but for the creme de la creme, say, "Talk to Best Dad Jokes" instead.

Google Home is chock-full of all sorts of surprising, hidden talents. For one, it makes a great game console, especially if you like role-playing style narrative adventures. Or try scheduling a command for the future using the new scheduling feature. Of course, for most people the No. 1 thing they do is listen to music, so be sure to set it up like this for the best experience.