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How to use Google Home Hub to control your entire smart home

Forget about switching between different apps to control your lights, thermostat and security cameras. Google Home Hub puts all of the controls at your fingertips.

Google's Home Hub ($149 at Google Store) is more than just a smart speaker with a screen. When fully set up, it's a nerve center for your smart devices too.

The Home Hub's "Home View" feature can corral connected lights, speakers and locks into one spot for quick access. It lets you visually see which lights are on, if the front door is locked and the thermostat temperature, without having to open each smart devices' individual app.

Here's how to set up Home View.

Download the Google Home mobile app

The first step is to download the Google Home app (iOS and Android). You've probably installed it on your phone already, since it's necessary for getting the Google Home Hub up and running.

And just like the Hub itself, the Home app is the method for bringing other smart devices into the Google fold.

Add smart home devices and services for Home Hub control through the Google Home app.

Brian Bennett/CNET

Add your devices

There are two main types of smart home products you can link to the Home app. The first are those that are made by Google, or labeled as "Made for Google" somewhere on their packaging. That includes the Google Home Hub and Home speakers and Chromecast video and audio products.

These products automatically enter setup mode when powered up for the first time. They'll also do so if they can't find their expected Wi-Fi network and detect an unfamiliar one. Sort them out by opening the Google Home app, then tap Add > Set up device > New devices. The app then searches for local devices currently requesting setup.

For other products, usually labeled "Works with Google Assistant," select that option in the app instead of "New devices." There you'll see any smart home services, such as Philips Hue, August Home or Ecobee, you may have already linked to your Google account.

You can add new smart home platforms here as well, as long as they're supported. Be sure to have your account details handy -- you'll have to enter them at least once to confirm the connection.

Once linked to your Home Hub, your connected devices will show up in the Home View menu.

Chris Monroe/CNET

Home Hub command and control

Linking your devices and third-party services is the hard part. With that done, it's time to have fun. Get ready to tweak and play around with settings for bulbs, switches, plugs and all manner of things the Home Hub now sees.

Access the Home View menu by swiping down from the top of the Hub's screen. You'll see icons there for various devices, grouped by category. Hitting the "view rooms" button opens a list of your smart devices, arranged by the room you've assigned them to.

Lights

Tap the light bulb icon to see all smart lights connected to your Google Home app. You can toggle individual items on or off, as well as set their brightness (if they're dimmable). The same goes for groups of lights, or all of them.

If you've added color-changing devices such as Philips Hue and Lifx smart bulbs, you'll be able to change those settings here as well.

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Thermostats

Inside this control menu are basic thermostat options. You can select heating and cooling, plus choose your target temperature.

For more advanced options such as operating the humidifier or the main fan, the device's dedicated app remains the way to go.

Cameras

At the moment, opening cameras in the Home View menu only pulls up live video feeds from a Nest camera. If a camera is off though, the Home Hub won't allow you to activate it.

Locks

You can use the Google Home Hub to unlock any connected smart locks you've installed, too. The device will prompt you for your security code, so have it at the ready. Otherwise, you'll just be able to view the lock's status (locked or unlocked).

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