How to Set up Google Home, Mini, and Max Smart Speakers

Enhance your lifestyle with Google Home Smart Speakers

Example of a Google Home device
A Google Home speaker.

Image provided by Google

Making the decision to buy a Google Home smart speaker is just the beginning. After you get it up and running, you have access to abundant lifestyle enhancement capabilities from listening to music, communicating with friends, language translation, news/information, and the ability to control other devices in your home.

Here is how to get started.

What You Need

Initial Setup Steps

  1. Plug in your Google Home smart speaker to power using the provided AC Adapter. It powers on automatically.

  2. Download the Google Home app to your smartphone or tablet from the Google Play or iTunes App Store.

  3. Open the Google Home app and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policies.

  4. Next, go to Devices in the Google Home app and allow it to detect your Google Home device.

  5. Once your device is detected, tap Continue on your smartphone screen and then tap set up for your Google Home device.

  6. After the app successfully sets up the selected Google Home unit, it will play a test sound and if not, tap "play test sound" on the app screen. If you heard the sound, then tap "I heard the sound".

  7. Next, using the Google Home app prompts on your smartphone select your location (if you haven't done so already), language, and Wi-Fi Network (be ready to enter your password).

  8. In order to enable Google Assistant features on a Google Home device, the final thing you need to is to tap "Sign In" in the Google Home App and enter your Google Account Username and password.

Use Voice Recognition and Communication

To start using the Google Home, say "OK Google" or "Hey Google" and then state a command or ask a question. Once Google Assistant responds, you are ready to go. One fun thing to do is say "OK or Hey Google - What's Up" - you will get a quite entertaining response that changes each time you say that phrase.

You must say "OK Google" or "Hey Google" each time you wish to ask a question unless you activate the Continued Conversation feature. This allows you to interact with your Google Home in a more natural manner. This means that you can ask Google a series of questions without having to say "OK Google" before each question. However, if Google Home does not detect any questions after 8 seconds, you will have to say "OK Google" to get another conversation started.

To enable the Continued Conversation feature:

  1. Go to the Google Assistant or Google Home App on your smartphone.

  2. Go to Settings In the Google Assistant App or More Settings in the Google Home App

  3. Go to Preferences

  4. Tap Continued Conversation

This feature is only available in the U.S.

When the Google Assistant recognizes your voice, multi-colored indicator lights located on the top of the unit will start flashing. Once a question is answered or the task is completed, you can say "OK or Hey Google, stop". However, the Google Home smart speaker does not turn off as it is always on unless you physically unplug it from power. However, if you wish to turn off the microphones for some reason, there is a microphone mute button.

When communicating with a Google Home smart speaker, speak in natural tones, at a normal pace and volume level. Over time, Google Assistant will become familiar with your speech patterns.

The default voice response of the Google Assistant is female. However, you can change the voice to male via the following steps:

  1. Open the Google Home App on your smartphone.

  2. Tap the Menu icon on the top left side of your screen.

  3. Under Google Assistant select More Settings.

  4. Under Account, go to Preferences.

  5. Select Assistant Voice. Before you finalize your choice you can tap on the speaker icon what it will sound like.

Try Language Capabilities

Google Home smart speakers can be operated in several languages including English (US, UK, CAN, AU), French (FR, CAN), and German. However, in addition to operational languages, Google Home devices can also translate words and phrases into languages supported by Google Translate.

For example, you can say "OK, Google, say 'good morning' in Finnish"; "OK, Google say 'thank you' in German"; "Hey Google tell me how to say 'where is the nearest school' in Japanese"; "OK, Google can you tell how to say 'here is my passport' in Italian".

You can also ask a Google Home smart speaker to spell just about every word, from "cat" to "supercalifragilisticexpialidocious". It can also spell many words in some foreign languages using English spelling conventions (does not include accents or other special characters).

Play Streaming Music

If you subscribe to Google Play, you can start playing music right away with commands such as "OK Google - Play Music". However, if you have accounts with other services, such as Pandora or Spotify, you can command Google Home to play music from those as well. For example, you can say "Hey Google, Play Tom Petty Music on Pandora".

To listen to a radio station, just say OK Google, play (name of the radio station) and if it is on iHeart Radio, the Google Home smart speaker will play it.

You can also listen to music directly from most smartphones via Bluetooth streaming. Just follow the pairing instructions in the Google Home App on your smartphone or just say "OK Google, Bluetooth pairing".

In addition, If you have a Google Home Max, you can physically connect an external audio source (such as a CD player) to it via an analog stereo cable. However, depending on the source, you may need to use an RCA-to-3.5mm adapter to complete the connection.

Also, while your Google Home is playing music, you can interrupt with a question about the musical artist or something else. After it answers, it will return you to the music automatically.

Google Home also supports multi-room audio. You can send audio to other Google Home smart speakers you might have around the house (including the Mini and Max), Chromecast for audio, and wireless powered speakers with Chromecast built-in. You can even place devices into groups. For example, you can have the devices in your living room and bedroom designated as one group and your bedroom devices in another group. However, Chromecast for video and TVs with Chromecast built-in do not support the Groups feature.

Once groups are established, you can not only send music to each group but you can change the volume each device or all the devices in the group together. Of course, you also have the option of controlling the volume of Google Home, Mini, Max, and Chromecast-enabled speakers using the physical controls available on each unit.

Make a Phone Call or Send A Message

You can use Google Home to make free phone calls. If the person you wish to call is on your contact list you can simply say something like "OK Google, call (Name)" or you can call anyone or any business in the U.S. or Canada (coming soon the UK) by asking Google Home to "dial" the phone number. You can also adjust the volume of the call using voice commands (set the volume at 5 or set the volume at 50 percent).

To end the call, just say "OK Google stop, disconnect, end call, or hang up" or if the other party ends the call you will hear the end call tone.

You can also place a call on hold, ask Google Home a question, and then return to the call. Just tell Google Home to place the call on hold or tap the top of the Google Home Unit.

Play Videos

Since Google Home devices do not have screens they cannot show videos directly. However, you can use them to show YouTube videos on your TV via a Chromecast unit or directly on the TV if the TV has Google Chromecast built-in.

To access YouTube, just say "OK Google, show me videos on YouTube" or, if you know what type of video you are looking for, you can also say something like "Show me Dog videos on YouTube" or "Show me Taylor Swift music videos on YouTube".

You can also use your Google Home device to control a Google Chromecast media streamer or a TV with Chromecast built-in.

Get Weather and Other Information

Just say "OK, Google, what is the weather?" and it will tell you. By default, weather alerts and information will correspond to the location of your Google Home. However, you can find out the weather for any location by just providing Google Home with any needed city, state, country information.

In addition to weather, you can use the Google Home to provide things like traffic information including "how long will it take to drive to Costco?"; sports updates from your favorite team; word definitions; unit conversions; and even fun facts.

With fun facts, you ask Google Home specific trivia questions such as: "Why is Mars red?"; "What was the largest dinosaur?"; "How much does the Earth weigh?"; "What is the World's tallest building?"; "How does an elephant sound?" You can also simply say "Hey, Google, tell me a fun fact" or "tell me something interesting" and Google Home will respond each time with a random piece of trivia that you might find quite entertaining.

Shop Online

You can use Google Home to create and maintain a shopping list. However, if you place a delivery address and payment method (credit or debit card) on file in Google account, you can also shop online. Using Google Assistant you can search for an item or simply say "Order more laundry detergent". Google Home will give you some choices. If you want to hear more choices, you can command the Google Home to "list more".

Once you have made your choice, you can select and buy it just saying "buy this" and then following the checkout and payment procedures as prompted.

Google has partnered with a large number of online retailers.

Cook With Food Network Assistance

Don't know what to cook tonight? Check out the Food Network Assistant. Just say "OK Google ask Food Network about Fried Chicken Recipes". What happens next is that the Google Assistant will establish voice assistance between you and Food Network.

The Food Network voice assistant will acknowledge your request and confirm that it has found the requested recipes and can email them to you or ask if you would like to request more recipes. If you choose the email option, you will receive them almost instantaneously. Another option you have is that the Food Network Assistant can also read you the recipe, step-by-step.

Call for Uber Rides

You can use the Google Home to reserve a ride on Uber. First, you need to make sure you have downloaded and installed the Uber app (with a payment method) on your smartphone and link it to your Google Account. Once that is done you should just be to say "OK Google, get me an Uber".

However, you will also have to make sure you have put in a pick-up destination in the Uber app. After that is taken care of, you can find out how far away your ride is so you can get ready to meet it, or find out it is running late.

Implement Smart Home Controls

Google Home smart speakers can serve as a control center for your home. For example, you can use it to lock and unlock doors, set thermostats for areas of the home, control room lighting, and provide limited control of compatible home entertainment devices, including TVs, home theater receivers, motorized projection screens and more either directly, or through compatible remote control devices, such as the Logitech Harmony remote control family, Nest, Samsung Smart Things, and more.

However, it must be pointed out that additional purchases of control accessories and compatible home entertainment devices must be made to effectively use Google Home's smart home features.

The Bottom Line

The Google Home (including the Mini and Max), combined with Google Assistant and provide abundant ways that you can enjoy music, get information, and perform daily tasks. Also, there is also the added bonus of controlling other devices, whether it be Google's own Chromecast to a host of third-party home entertainment and home automation devices from companies, such as Nest, Samsung, and Logitech.

Google Home Devices can do a lot more than discussed above. The possibilities continually expand as the Google Voice Assistant keeps learning and more third-party companies link their devices to the Google Home experience.