One of the biggest critiques of Google Home at its launch was how much ground it would have to make up to truly compete with Amazon's Alexa speakers. But Google has been moving forward with large strides, first rolling out support for sending Netflix shows and movies to your television and adding support for third-party Actions at the beginning of the year.
You can now order everyday items with Google Home just by asking. Before you can shop with Google Home, however, you'll have to setup a default address and payment method.
- Open the Google Home app on your Android or iOS device.
- Go to More settings and select Payments under the Google Account settings section.
- Agree to the terms and conditions.
- Enter your card information and billing address under Payment method.
- Follow the on-screen prompts.
- Select your delivery address.
When shopping with Google Home, you will get results from participating stores like Costco, Fry's Electronics, PetSmart, Whole Foods and over 50 participating Google Express retailers. Best of all, through April 30, you won't have to pay for additional services or membership fees to participating stores that typically require a membership.
To get started with shopping, you can say things like:
- "OK Google, how do I shop?"
- "OK Google, order tissues."
- "OK Google, buy a Google Home."
- "OK Google, reorder Old Spice deodorant."
When you ask to order an item, such as paper towels or shampoo, Google Assistant will then take you through a few results, offering the price and a short description before asking you if you to confirm the order. If you decline, Google Assistant will proceed to the next result. If you decline again, it will add the item you asked about to your shopping list in the Google Home app.
You can even order other Google products, like another Google Home or Chromecast. Oddly, the Google Store isn't always prioritized. When I asked to buy a Chromecast, the result came from Fry's Electronics instead of Google's own online shop. Asking for a Pixel XL resulted in several case options from Fry's, but no actual results for the phone itself. And, instead of explaining that Google Wifi (£399.99 at Amazon.co.uk) is waitlisted, my Google Home just told me it couldn't find Google Wifi, and would only add it to my shopping list.
Ordering items over $100 also isn't allowed. I tried to add an iPad to my cart, but Google Home responded with, "I found several results for iPad on Google Express, but I can't order items over $100. Should I add iPad to your shopping list?"
You can't actually order anything from the shopping list either -- it's just a checklist in a Google Keep note. But if you enter your Google Home history (under More settings > My Activity) in the Google Home app, you will find a card with a link to a Google search for whatever you asked Google Home to order.
Like Alexa-enabled speakers, voice shopping with Google Home has its limitations. You have to be rather specific to get the results you want, otherwise, you're relegated to the first couple of search results for a generic search term, like deodorant. And sometimes being more specific can confuse Google Assistant. Still, it's hard to deny that shopping for essentials with my voice while not looking up from my Twitter feed feels an awful lot like living in the future.