Like the Alexa speakers, Google Home ($59 at Amazon)'s primary function is streaming audio. After all, it is a speaker -- it just has a lot of extra features (and a growing list of compatible third-party smart home gadgets). With Google Home, you can get your news, listen to your favorite radio station or podcast and listen to music videos.
Here are all the music, podcast and radio services that work with Google Home.
Google Play Music is the default music streaming service for Google Home. Like most other streaming services, however, you will need to sign up for a premium subscription to unlock the full potential of Google Play Music. With a free account, you can listen to ad-supported radio stations with up to six skips per hour. By subscribing to Google Play Music or YouTube Red, you unlock ad-free access to over 30 million songs. This also unlocks ad-free listening in YouTube Music, which works with Google Home.
To use Spotify with Google Home, you need a Spotify Premium account. To stream music from Spotify, either specify that you want to listen on Spotify in your command ("OK Google, play indie music on Spotify") or set it as the default music service.
Pandora works on Google Home without a premium account, but you will still need to link your free account to enable the service. Then, like with Spotify, either clarify that you want to listen to music from Pandora in your command or set it as the default service.
For now, podcasts on Google Home are restricted to Google Play Music. Just say something like, "OK Google, play Serial," and the most recent episode will begin to play. You can skip through episodes in reverse chronological order by saying, "OK Google, next." But you cannot listen to a specific episode number on command.
Despite both supporting podcasts, queueing up podcasts on the Google Home through Spotify or TuneIn is not currently possible. Instead, you have to use the mobile apps to cast the audio to the Google Home speaker.
From launch, users have been able to listen to local and internet radio stations on Google Home using TuneIn. As of this week, Google Home has been updated to also support iHeartRadio.
To play a station, just say, "OK Google, play 106.5" or any station that you like to listen to. If Google Home says the station is not available on one of the services, try asking for the station specifically from the other service.
Like with podcasts, you can't natively listen to audiobooks through TuneIn on Google Home. What that means is, you can't use your voice to start listening to audiobooks, but you can cast them to Google Home.
Similar to radio stations, you can get the latest news in short sound bites from some of Google Home's third-party services, such as AudioBurst, NBC News, NPR One and The Wall Street Journal. Just say, "OK Google, let me talk to AudioBurst" or "OK Google, open NPR One."
While Google Home may not operate as a Bluetooth speaker like Alexa, it does have an alternative that's almost as good: Cast.
At its core, Google Home is just a fancy looking Chromecast ($25 at eBay) with a nice set of speakers attached to it. This means you can stream almost any audio to it, simply by using an audio app on your phone, selecting something to play, tapping the Cast button and choosing the Google Home speaker. There are thousands of apps that support Cast, such as NPR One, Pocket Casts, SoundCloud or Plex. You can see them all here.