The Google Home smart speaker is the search giant's answer to the Amazon Echo, and the new Home Mini its answer to the Echo Dot. Instead of Alexa, each boasts the considerable capabilities of the Google Assistant -- just say "OK Google" or "Hey Google" to activate it, then give it a question or command.
Aside from streaming music, Google's smart speakers work with a number of third-party services and smart-home gadgets, letting the Assistant turn your lights off, check on your laundry cycle, control your home's sprinklers and all sorts of other nifty tricks. Click through to take a look at everything they can do.
First up: audio. The Home gets an assist from Google's own Chromecast Audio streamer here -- just plug one into your existing speaker or sound setup, and you'll be able to cast audio to it using a Google Home voice command.
You don't need a Chromecast Audio in order to rock out with the Google Home. It has its own, built-in speaker for music playback, and supports music-streaming services like Spotify, Google Play Music, Pandora, iHeartRadio and YouTube.
That said, if you've got multiple speakers hooked up to multiple Chromecasts, you can group them together, then use a Google Home voice command to start synchronized playback on all of them at once.
Google Home will also work with the original Chromecast, a wireless video dongle that streams apps such as Netflix, YouTube, Spotify, Pandora and HBO Now to your TV using an Android or iOS device, or a PC, as the controller. With Google Home in play, you can use your voice as the remote -- just tell it to play your favorite Netflix show or YouTube video, then watch it fire up on the TV before you.
Google's new Chromecast Ultra also works with Google Home. The new Chromecast can stream 4K and HDR video.
When we reviewed the Chromecast last year, we noted that the "lack of a dedicated remote means you always need a smartphone, tablet or PC nearby to use it," which could prove to be an inconvenience. But using voice controls via the Google Home could address this issue.
Of course, if you have a Vizio TV with Chromecast built in, like this M-Series model, you can cast videos directly to it using Google Home voice commands. And hey, it comes with a remote!
Speaking of TVs, if yours is Chromecast-enabled, you can ask the Google Assistant to show you the feed from your Netgear Arlo Pro wireless cameras, even if you don't pay the monthly fee for Arlo's premium features. It was a little hit and miss when we first tested it out, but pretty nifty when it worked!
The same obviously goes for the Google-owned Nest Cam.
If you want to ask the Google Assistant to show you what's happening outside on your TV, you can spring for one of Nest's outdoor cameras, too.
Google's smart speaker works with the Nest Learning Thermostat, too. If you're feeling a little too hot or a little too cold, you can trigger a temperature change just by asking for one.
Certain Honeywell Lyric thermostats support Google Home controls, too. That includes the round version seen here.
The wonkier-looking Lyric T5 is another Honeywell thermostat that works with Google Home.
Looking for something that's a bit more budget-friendly? Consider the Emerson Sensi, a no-frills smart thermostat that supports the Google Assistant and costs just $100 or less.
The new August Smart Lock Pro supports Google Home, too. It's perfect for when you get into bed but realize that you forgot to lock the door -- instead of getting up, just ask the Google Assistant to lock it.
Powered by Google Assistant smarts, the Lenovo smart display looks great, sounds good and can help you in the kitchen. Ask it anything you'd ask your Google Home speakers and you'll get visual responses such as forecasts, search results and step-by-step recipe guides. Other Google Assistant smart displays include the JBL Link View and LG WK9 ThinQ Xboom.
Neato's Botvac Connected line of robot vacuums works with Google Home -- just give a quick voice command to start or stop a cleaning cycle.
Philips Hue is another big smart home player that works with Google Home. Sync everything up, and you'll be able to turn your lights on and off, dim them up and down or change their color using voice commands.
Philips Hue sells a fairly wide range of products, including light strips, designer lamps, and these surprisingly affordable white-light-only bulbs. All of it works with Google Home, provided you're using the current-gen Philips Hue Bridge (that little square guy, there).
Hue not for you? You also put the Google Assistant in charge of color-changing smart lights by using Lifx bulbs.
The Wiz LED is another color-changing option that works with Google Home.
Google Home is also compatible with TP-Link's line of smart bulbs, including both white-light bulbs and the color-changing bulb seen here.
You can also ask the Google Assistant to control certain smart lights from Osram.
Nanoleaf's funky-looking smart bulbs also support Google Home voice controls.
Same goes for Nanoleaf's color-changing "Aurora" light panels.
Lifx Tiles are plenty bright and perfectly colorful, and unlike the competition, you can paint multiple colors across each one. Integrations with IFTTT, Nest, Alexa, Siri and Google Assistant make it easy to find a place for them in a larger smart-home setup.
No smart bulbs? No problem! Screw any bulb you like into Emberlight's adapter, then tell the Google Assistant to turn that bulb on and off or dim it up and down.
Samsung's SmartThings Hub is designed to connect with all sorts of smart home gadgets from a wide variety of manufacturers. It's compatible with Google Home, too, which means that you'll be able to control all of your SmartThings-connected switches and lights using spoken commands.
SmartThings' own hardware, like this leak detector, works with Google Home, too. Other SmartThings devices include motion sensors and smart plugs.
The Wink Hub is another smart-home control device that works with Google Home. Like SmartThings, it supports a variety of third-party gadgets -- sync it up with your smart speaker, and those gadgets get to come along for the ride.
Looking for an alternative to SmartThings and Wink? Consider Insteon, a legacy system that uses its own proprietary communications protocol and gadgets. That makes it more of a closed system, but it at least works with the Google Assistant to let you control everything with your voice. Plus, the hub is slightly less expensive than the competition.
Same goes for the hardware of Hive, a thermostat-centric smart home kit that also includes smart lights and smart switches. The Google Home smart speaker can control all of it.
This smart thermostat from Lux Kono works with Google Assistant and comes in 11 finishes. A knob in the bottom right quadrant controls everything on the thermostat -- and a small screen in the top left quadrant displays the current and set temperatures, as well as any other settings you navigate to.
Not to be left out, the Lowes' Iris smart-home platform supports Google Home voice controls, too.
More security-minded? Consider Scout, an install-it-yourself smart security kit that you can arm with a quick voice command to your Google Home on your way out the door.
Then there's IFTTT, a free online automation service that lets you link devices and web services that don't normally work together. Google Home has its own channel on IFTTT, letting you connect it with anything else on the platform. You can even use IFTTT to craft your own custom voice commands that do just about anything you can think of.
You can also use Google Home voice commands to control Belkin's line of WeMo gadgets, like this mini-size smart switch that turns your appliances on and off. Instead of using the app or pressing the button like a caveman, just tell the smart speaker to turn it on or off.
Same goes for WeMo's light switches, like this smart dimmer. The Google Assistant can turn it on and off, or dim it up and down.
If you don't need your lights to dim, the standard WeMo Light Switch works with the Google Assistant, too, and costs a little less. We crammed four of them into this gangbox at the CNET Smart Home.
The iHome Smart Plug is another smart switch option for Google Home users.
If those last two aren't on sale, then consider your third Google-friendly option, the iDevices Switch.
OK, we get it -- there are tons of smart switches that work with Google Home. But hey, this one's a great budget pick.
This smart plug does it all -- power monitoring, individually-controllable outlets, USB charging -- even LED indicator dimming. It works with Siri, Alexa and Google Assistant, but its bulky design will take up a lot of space on your wall.
If you really want to get fancy, you could just swap your outlet out with this app-enabled iDevices Outlet. The Google Assistant can turn anything you plug into it on and off -- no extra plug-in gizmo needed!
Combine smart plugs into one helpful power strip. This TP-Link power strip is surge protected, featured individually controllable outlets and includes USB charging ports for extra juice. Ask Google Assistant to power on or off your connected devices. You can also schedule them and integrate with IFTTT.
Google's smart speaker can even water your lawn for you. Just hook it up with the Blossom Smart Sprinkler Controller, then tell the Google Assistant to turn your sprinklers on.
Blossom isn't alone, here -- you can use the Google Home to control Rachio's smart sprinkler system, too.
And hey, if you're swapping outlets out, why not upgrade your light switches, too? iDevices has a Google Home-compatible dimmer switch that'll do the job nicely.
Lutron's Caseta line of smart switches work with Google Home, too.
Leviton is another smart switch manufacturer that's friendly with Google Home. No fingers necessary, friend -- just use your voice!
If you'd rather automate a plug than hardwire a switch, Leviton makes one of those that works with Google Home, too. Just tell the Google Assistant to turn anything you plug into it on or off -- lamp, space heater, desk fan, you name it. Or, get this lamp-specific dimmer model to dim your living room Tiffany lamp nice and low.
You'll get two outlets in this outdoor smart plug, both individually controllable. The plug works with Google Assistant and Alexa for automating, scheduling and controlling your connected devices remotely.
This garage controller works with Google Assistant for voice commands and automation. Link your Tailwind account in the Google Home app to bring your garage door into your smart home.
We're seeing a growing number of large appliances hop on board with voice controls. For instance, this GE washer lets you start a cycle with a Google Home command.
Earlier in 2018, LG announced that its entire lineup of Wi-Fi-equipped "SmartThinQ" appliances will work with the Google Assistant. That includes the LSXC22436S Side-by-Side fridge, one of our top-reviewed models. Aside from pinging your phone if your kid ever leaves the door open, you can ask the Google Assistant to adjust the temperature inside, or to tell you if the water filter needs replacing.
It's not like there's a Google Home speaker sticking out of the dashboard, but there might as well be -- select Chrysler models support spoken commands on the road via the Google Assistant.