10 Things To Know About Using Multiple Google Home Devices

By now you have heard of Google Home, Google’s amazing little speaker which is both artificial intelligence and a Chromecast rolled in one.  Google Home is the company’s entry into the AI race, which also includes Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri, and Microsoft’s Cortana, among others. Home is designed to also work with Google’s Pixel Phones. Google Home can do a variety of things and works with a great number of devices and service partners. In addition to having multiroom functionality, they can now work with multiple users. In fact, so far, it can recognize six different voices! By now, the Internet is full of FAQs on how to add multiple accounts to your google home(s). There is even a Google Home App.

After buying a Google Home and using it for a while, I decided to get more of them. I got one for the living room, one for the bedroom and one for the bathroom.  Why? Simple. Each is a speaker and can play music independently. Also, I got tired of yelling.

Despite having used the Google Home for a while, I found that using multiple devices in an apartment required me to relearn how to use Google Home when you have multiple devices. Those of you who already have a Home and love it should be aware of the following:

Google Home devices will Compete to Please You

This was the biggest surprise. If two devices hear what you are asking, sometimes, like children trying to please you, they will compete to do what you say. Sometimes this leads to unexpected and odd results, including odd volume changes and having a Google Home in another room respond rather than the one in the room with you. The Pixel adds another dynamic to the mix. If the Pixel hears you and it is on the network’s with the Homes, often it will say “answering on another device” and the Home will answer and carry out the command unless it is related to functions not yet enabled on the Home.

You should think of each device like a different child

It took me a while to figure this one out, though it might be obvious. This is where naming the devices is key. I have named my devices based on where they are. Mine are designated “Living Room Home”, “Bathroom Home” and “Bedroom Home”.  I also have a Google Pixel. With the Pixel, it is like having four children in the house. In order to avoid misunderstandings, I speak to the devices as if they are children with different names, being very precise and clear about what I want. For instance, if I want to play music in the bathroom, I will say “OK GOOGLE, PLAY MUSIC ON BATHROOM HOME” and that device will play music. If I am in audible range of the device, I don’t have to specify a device name, as the device that hears me will respond and follow my direction. However, if multiple devices hear you, they start getting a little odd and do whatever they want if you aren’t clear with your directions regarding what device should carry out what you are asking.

Individual Google Home Devices will each keep separate alarms

If you want the Home to set an alarm, you can ask the Home to do so. However, if this alarm is going to go off when you are not in the room with that particular device, that can be a problem. This is especially true if the alarm is to wake you up for an important event. You have to remember that each device is different and keeps its own alarms and tasks. If you are in the living room but know you need an alarm set for tomorrow morning, when you will be sleeping in the bedroom, you can either walk into the bedroom and tell the Google Home in there to set the alarm or tell the device in the room you are in to set an alarm on the Home in the bedroom for a given time.  It is worth asking the Bedroom Home what time the alarm is set for before you go to sleep to ensure that the message was conveyed. If you then ask the device in your room what time the alarm is set for, it will tell you that no alarm is set, because it has no alarm set for that device.  You can ask for multiple alarms on an individual device.

Google Home will wake you up if you ask it to.

One amazing use for Google Home is as a clock and alarm clock. You can always ask it what time it is and also to wake you up at a certain time. It will even play relaxation or sleep music for you. There does not yet seem to be a sleep timer on the music streaming function. Hopefully the folks at Google get on that.

You can ask Google Home to Snooze and it will come back again in 10 minutes.

The majority of my intense interaction is with my Google Home in the morning. When it wakes me up, I often say “OK GOOGLE, SNOOZE” and the device responds that it will come back in ten minutes.  This goes on several times a morning. On Wednesdays, I have my Phillips Hue app turn the lights on automatically at a certain time in the morning. I would love to tell you how amazing this is, but the truth is, I hate them both for waking me up.

You can tell one Google Home device to make another Google Home device to do something.

If you want to control a Google Home in another room, you can tell the device in the room you are in your command and as long as you give adequate directions as to what Home device should be used to carry out the command, it should work. This can also lead to a bit of hazing from friends who decide to play odd music in the room you are in while they are in another room.

If you tell the device to turn the mic off or turn it off manually, the others will still listen.

Google Homes are always listening for their commands, though they only respond when you say OK GOOGLE or HEY GOOGLE.  You can also press a button to turn the device’s microphone off. Just remember that you have to turn off the mic on each Home that might hear you. Also, the Home devices are remarkably sensitive at times and can pick up a whisper.

Your Pixel Phone can control your Google Home devices, even when you are not in the house or on the same wifi network.

One day, while leaving my building’s garage, I looked up and noticed I had left the lights on.  From the inside of my car, I said OK GOOGLE and my Pixel Phone answered. I told the phone to turn the lights off and each of my 11 Hue lamps instantly turned off as the phone responded “turning 11 lights off”. That is how I learned that my Pixel phone did not have to be on the same wifi network to operate my Google Phones. From outside the house, I can control not only the lights using my Pixel, but also the Home Devices.

Each Google Home can play music independently, or you can stream to all of the devices, including Chromecast Audios.

Just like Chromecast Audio, Google Home is capable of multi-room music and sound broadcasting. You can actually also use the Homes in conjunction with Chromecast audio and speakers connected to those devices.

Google is Watching

Really, they are.  They are recording everything. They can explain this better than I can. Your voice commands, your chrome browser usage, etc.  This is happening with several companies. Before you start vilifying Google Home, your phone is probably listening and recording your activity as well and has been for a while. As to Google, you can see exactly what is being saved by going to their site.


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