Whether you’re onboard or not, smart homes are the future. Of course, there are still a few quirks, and some devices are downright ridiculous. (Consider the Grillbot, an automatic grill cleaner, or the Davek Umbrella, with its “Loss Alert” sensor.)
But smart technology definitely has its benefits.
With a smart garage door opener, you can open and close your garage from your smartphone and monitor its status even when you’re away from home. With a smart lock, you can issue “keys” to guests, friends, or family, and even unlock the door from afar.
Internet-ready and cloud data systems allow data “packets” to be transferred over the internet from various platforms. These packets move from device to device and essentially drive the entire smart tech industry.
However, the real benefits of connected tech come into play when you can use voice commands with them. Alexa, from Amazon’s Echo, is a great example of this.
The real star of the show is Google Assistant, though. In the past, issuing voice commands to Google Assistant to interface with smart tech was a Google Home-only feature. With the latest version, everyone can take advantage of this — even iPhone users.
What makes it stand out from the competition? It’s the way in which you interact and talk with the assistant. It’s just more human and more natural: “OK, Google. Turn on my lights.”
Sadly, Google Assistant cannot control everything … yet. The list of brands with devices that can be controlled include Honeywell, Nest, Philips Hue, WeMo, SmartThings, and more. Rest assured: this list will be expanded in time.
First things first, though. You need to connect your smart home devices to the Google Assistant app on your phone. This is what tells the AI what you have and how it can be used.
To connect one of your supported gadgets to Assistant, use the following steps:
- Open Google Assistant.
- Tap the three dots in the upper right-hand corner to open the settings menu. Navigate to the “Home Control” option and choose it.
- Tap the “+” button to add devices. You’ll see a list of devices you can choose from — simply find yours. Once you choose a device, you’ll need to sign in to the related service.
- Once you’ve added all your devices, you must separate them by room. This allows Google Assistant to differentiate between control areas. For example: “living room” vs. “office.”
- Once it’s all set up, you can begin controlling your devices. Test it out with a simple command like “OK, Google, turn off the lights in my living room.” Obviously, those lights need to be either smart lights or smart bulbs synced with the service.
Now, we move on to the juicy part — the reason you’re here. We’re going to discuss some of the many ways you can use Google Assistant to control your smart home. Keep in mind: This assumes you already have your smart devices synced through the Google Assistant app and separated by rooms.
Control your lights
With connected lights or bulbs from brands such as LIFX, TP-Link, Osram, and Iris by Lowe’s, you can control lighting remotely with Google Assistant. Here are some of the commands you can use:
- OK Google, turn off the [x] room lights.
- Turn [x light] blue.
- Set [x light] to 70 percent.
- Brighten [x light] please.
This list is not comprehensive, but you get the gist of it.
This is great if you have your hands full and come home to a dark house. You can simply tell Google to turn on lights for you. But you can also use a service like IFTTT to automate the process. This allows you to turn your lights on and off on a schedule to give the appearance you’re home, even when you’re not.
Set your thermostat
Too hot or cold in your house? No problem! You can use Google Assistant to adjust your heating and cooling from the comfort of the couch. That’s right — you don’t even have to stand up if you don’t want to.
You can also do some pretty rad things through automation. Like having your smartphone ping your thermostat when you leave work and then automatically cooling your house so it’s just the way you like it when you get home.
Smarten up legacy appliances
Don’t have the money to outfit your entire home with smart technology? Want to turn that vintage lamp you absolutely adore into a connected, smart device? No problem! That’s where smart control switches and outlet adapters come into play.
The WeMo Switch is a great example of this. Just plug it into an electric socket, plug in the device you want to control, and then sync up the switch to your smartphone. Then you’re good to go!
Turn your TV on or off
To control some devices, you may need additional tech and a bit of ingenuity. For example, you can control a TV if you have the Logitech Harmony Hub. Officially, Google Assistant does not support this platform, but you can use IFTTT to make it work.
Once connected, you’ll be able to control your TV just by calling out commands.
Answer your door
Google Assistant is compatible with Samsung SmartThings which, in turn, is compatible with devices like the Ring video doorbell and Schlage smart locks. This means you can answer the door and even let visitors or family into your home without having to open the door yourself.
This really comes in handy if you’re in the backyard grilling, working in your office, or doing something else that keeps you from getting to the door easily.
Google Home and Amazon Echo devices double as Bluetooth speakers, which means you can play music through them. But you can also sync up sound devices like the Samsung Radiant360 series or Bose SoundTouch 10.
With these, you can use voice commands to play music or audio. You can even separate it by room if you have speakers in separate areas of your home: “OK Google, play my ‘rock’ playlist in the living room.”
The possibilities are endless
That’s it for this article, but as we said, Google will be adding support for a wider selection of devices in due time. The smart home possibilities, at least when it comes to controlling your home with voice commands, are endless.
Kayla Matthews is a technology and energy IT writer whose work has appeared on Motherboard, MakeUseOf, and Triple Pundit.