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The Google Nest feature I use almost daily: Turn it into a Bluetooth speaker

Here's how to use your Google Home smart assistant as a Bluetooth speaker for any music streaming service.

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Yes, it's smart, but a Google Home Mini or Nest Mini can also act as a basic Bluetooth speaker.

Josh Miller/CNET
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One of the Google Nest features I use the most is also among the simplest. Yes, Google Assistant smart devices are great at a lot of stuff -- calculating math problems, reporting the weather and serving up fun games, for example. But you can also use your Google Nest as a bona fide Bluetooth speaker to beam whatever music, podcast or audiobook you want from your phone or tablet. 

Why does that matter? Well, maybe you listen to a streaming service Google Home doesn't support, like Apple Music or Audible. (Full disclosure: I have both.) Or when friends come over and one wants to DJ the party. Sometimes I simply prefer to control what's playing on my speakers with my phone and not my voice.

Read more: Apple Music vs. Spotify: The best music streaming service in 2021

Whatever your reason, here's how to connect a phone, tablet or even a laptop or desktop computer to your Nest smart speaker with Bluetooth.

First, pair your phone or device to the Google Nest with Bluetooth

If you've never connected your phone, tablet or computer with your Nest speaker using Bluetooth before, the first time is a little more complicated. Once they've been paired, they'll remember each other, and connecting and disconnecting will be much easier. Here's how to pair with Bluetooth the first time:

1. Say "OK, Google, enter pairing mode." You can also say "pair Bluetooth" or "turn on Bluetooth."

2. Google Assistant will respond, "To connect, open Bluetooth settings and look for the device called [the name you gave your device]."

3. Open the settings app on your mobile device or computer, go to Bluetooth settings and look for the name of your Nest device and click or tap either the name of the device or the word or button for Connect.

4. Your Nest speaker will play a sound to indicate your devices are now connected. Now any audio you play on your phone, tablet or computer will play through your smart speaker. 

5. To disconnect, say, "Hey, Google, disconnect Bluetooth." Google Assistant will say "Bluetooth is disconnected" to confirm.

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Once you've paired your device with Google Home, connecting and disconnecting can be done with just voice commands.

Josh Miller/CNET

How to connect your phone to the Google Nest after you've paired them

From there on out, it's pretty simple. When you want to connect, start with "Okay, Google" or "Hey, Google," then say any of the following:

  • "Connect to my phone."
  • "Connect to my device."
  • "Connect Bluetooth."

Google Assistant will respond, "Looking for paired devices," then play a sound when you're connected. Say, "Hey, Google, disconnect Bluetooth" when you're done. 

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Be careful -- if Google Assistant asks if you want to "clear" Bluetooth devices, say no and try your command again, or it'll unpair with everything.

Chris Monroe/CNET

Watch out for this Google Assistant glitch, though

When I was testing this process out on a number of different Google Nest devices -- both speakers and displays -- occasionally I would try to disconnect my phone and Google would ask, "You want to clear your list of paired Bluetooth devices, right?"

If your Google Assistant asks this, the definitive answer is "No." 

"Clearing" your list of paired devices will make Google Assistant forget the device you just paired (and any other devices you've ever paired, too). Not only will you have to go back and redo the first pairing steps as detailed above, you'll probably have to go into your mobile device or computer's Bluetooth settings and "forget" the Nest device from there, too. Otherwise you might get the same error message as me, that your device cannot connect to your Nest speaker all of a sudden.

I find the more uses I can come up with for it, the more I love using Google Nest as a Bluetooth speaker. Most people listen to music on their smart speakers -- here's how to call up the exact song you want with only your voice. Another simple feature I use every day: Here's how to turn off timers and alarms when you're no longer in the same room (without shouting).