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Google sets the stage for Home Max with its updated app

Google's new look app will help you find something to watch across all of your services, and refined sound controls set the stage for its new high-end Google Home Max speaker

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The Google Home app isn't just for setting up voice controls anymore. 

Chris Monroe/CNET

Google wants to make the Google Home app more fun to use. An app update rolls out on Tuesday that will allow refined control of music playback on your connected speakers. The update also includes cosmetic changes and a more robust search so you can more easily find content you want to watch on any connected service, including Netflix and HBO. You'll even be able to cast trailers to your TV from the app and swipe through related trailers.

The Google Home app was initially launched along with Google's smart speaker of the same name. From the start, you could use the app to setup your Google Home speaker and Chromecast streaming devices. You could also connect your smart home devices to Google through the app, but at first, it was more of a means to an end. The Google Home speaker is voice controlled, so after the initial setup, I rarely needed to open the app.

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This update might change that as the new-look browse tab and refined search aim to make the Home app your hub for finding something to watch or listen to. In my preview build of the update, I had trouble noticing some of the cosmetic changes. It'll look drastically different if you haven't opened the app in a while, but some aspects of the new look have been rolling out quietly over the past couple of weeks. That said, the search was distinctly more interactive. You can see the difference in the screenshots below.

When I search Ryan Gosling on the left, and when I click movies I get the results on the right. 

Screenshots by Andrew Gebhart/CNET

The buttons at the bottom interact with your previous search, using a similar conversational approach to Google's digital assistant -- simply called Google Assistant. Interact with the Assistant on your phone, and it will offer suggestions for popular follow-up queries.

The new app offers refined controls for music playback. 

Screenshots by Andrew Gebhart/CNET

I also like the app's refined playback controls. You can pull up volume controls for any media you're casting. If you're playing music on certain speakers, including the Google Home, you can access advanced options and fine tune the bass and treble settings.

This feature will no doubt come in handy when Google launches its high end smart speaker, Google Home Max, later this year. I also hope Google expands these fine controls to connected smart home gear, so you can eventually use the Google Home app like Apple's Home app to control all of your compatible gadgets from one place.

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