Technology

Google Home App Has a New Look and More Powerful Automation

Google

A new sweeping update to the Google Home app includes a new layout, live camera views, improved automation with powerful scripting, watch and web-based control, and more. Here’s a breakdown of everything new.

Sign Up for the Public Preview to Get Features Now

Before we get anybody too excited too early in the day, it’ll be a few weeks (and in some cases some months) before all the features we’re about to describe go live.

You can get access to most of the features now by signing up for the Google Home Public Preview here.

There’s a Fresh New User Interface

The Google Home app hasn’t had a serious refresh in quite some time, so the most immediately noticeable change right out of the gate is a massively overhauled app interface.

A new “Favorites” tab allows you to gather your most used devices and shortcuts in a single place. There you can control lighting, scenes, and media playback in a much more polished fashion.

In addition, a new feature, available in 2023, called “Spaces” will allow you to group together devices, shortcuts, speakers, cameras, and more into what we would describe as “use groups.”

images of the new Google Home app interface showing the upcoming Spaces organization feature.
Google

Not just zones, in that the things are together, but groupings of items by function and goal. For example you could make a “Space” for your child, your pet, your back patio, or your movie room and then group together all the related shortcuts and features you want for that task or space in one place.

So rather than your child’s room only appearing in your Google Home because there are X smart devices in that room, you could instead make a mini dashboard for that room that includes not just the devices in the room and their status but the shortcuts and functions you use with them.

Nest Cameras Are Moving to Home

Although Google Home has supported the Nest cameras for some time, the updated Google Home app is mating the best of the Nest camera app with Google Home. The old Nest app will stick around in maintenance mode, but all the new and innovative stuff happening with the Nest cameras will rely on the updated Google Home app.

Most notable among the changes is live camera view integration with the aforementioned Favorites tab. If the thing you do most with your camera is open it to check the front door, check what your dog is up to in the backyard, or peek in on your toddler by using a Nest camera as a nursery cam, you can park that camera view right at the top.

Behind the scenes, software updates for Nest cameras—starting with the freshly announced wired Nest Doorbell—will offer an improved user experience with optimized video scrubbing and grouping of video clips by activities and triggers (such as packages or pets).

You Can Use Google Home More Places

In continuing with the “We’ll take the best of the Nest experience and fold it into Google Home” theme, over the next few weeks, you’ll have two new ways to access your Google Home’s interface.

First, all Wear OS 3 devices, like the Samsung Galaxy 4 Watch and the Google Pixel Watch, will get a new app for on-the-wrist control of your Google smart home.

Google Home on a Wear OS 3 watch and accessible via web browser.
Google

A few weeks after that, home.google.com will be active as a web portal for access to your Google home environment, including live views of your Nest cameras—if you visit the page before that rollout, you’ll just see the general Google Home splash page.

Home Automation Is Improved, and Super Powered

Speaking of the new Google Home web interface, the ability to work with your Google Home using a mouse and keyboard is crucial to the real sleeper hit tucked away in the Google Home update.

Across the board, Google has updated the home routine system to be more streamlined and intuitive. There’s a dedicated Automation tab and expanded support for various devices as both starter triggers and end actions.

That’s great. But what’s really great is that Google has taken a page from powerful open-source home automation projects like Home Assistant and included a script editor in Google Home.

An example of Google's new smart home scripting interface.
Google

If you have ever been frustrated with your Google Home because you wanted a particular outcome and neither the Google Home software nor the native app for your smart home device or appliance could deliver, this is the update for you.

The script editor will include over a hundred new features to help you link your devices together in new and more useful ways.

The updated home automation menus will be available immediately, but the script editor won’t be available until 2023.

Matter Fast Pairing on Android

Finally, with a new feature called “Fast Pair for Matter,” Google has rolled out enhanced support for the upcoming Matter smart home standard to Android devices.

Android devices running Android Oreo and above will gain the ability to automatically detect Matter-compatible devices and quickly add them to your home.

If you’re an iOS user, don’t sweat it. Although this particular feature is a bonus for Android users, Google’s support for Matter is far-reaching and supported Google devices (like the Nest Hub) will function as Matter hubs whether you have an Android device or not.

Whew, that’s a lot of new stuff. We can’t speak for everybody, but we’re pretty excited to play around with the new app and really looking forward to taking the scripting engine for a spin.



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