So you finally bought a new A.I. home assistant, but now that you’ve opened your Google Home or Nest device, you have no idea where to start.
Good instincts not rushing into anything, because it’s essential to set up the system correctly and not just improvise. In this article, we explain how to set up a Google Home device, how to connect and sync your Google accounts, and how to customize your preferences.
1. Plug it in
To get started, first plug your Google Home device into the wall. There is no power button on the Google Home, so as long as it’s plugged into an outlet, it’s automatically on. Wait a few minutes for it to light up, and it will then begin looking for your phone to set up a connection. Keep your phone on hand, so you’ll know when the two are ready to be synced.
2. Download the Google Home app
Whether you use an iPhone or Android, you can find the Google Home app in the App Store or on Google Play. When prompted, agree to turn on location permissions, as this makes it easier for the device to report accurate local weather, let you know the nearest Walgreens, etc. Be sure your smartphone is connected to your home Wi-Fi, as this is how the Google Home will be able to access your network information.
3. Sign in with Google and sync your device
To use a Google Home device, you’ll need a Google account. If you already have a Gmail address, that’s perfect — go ahead and enter that. If you don’t already have one, head over to gmail.com on your laptop or smartphone to create a new account.
When you are logged in, open up your Google Home app and give it a moment to get its bearings. Usually, at this point, the Google Home app will say something like, “New device detected” or “Set up device.” Select this notification to begin. If you do not see the notification, select the plus sign on the Home screen and choose Set up device to give the app a kick-start.
A series of numbers will show up on the screen of both your Hub and on your phone, and these numbers should match. Select Yes to verify that these numbers match and that you’re connecting the right device. Choose which room the device will be in, and you are ready to connect.
If necessary, you may also be asked to input your physical address for the device if you have not already done so. Be sure to set the location of your Google Home device, as you’ll need this for things like local weather reports, traffic conditions, and commute times.
4. Customize and connect accounts
Google Home will now ask you about several different connections you can make on your devices to ensure it works with your current services. Here’s what you will need to make decisions about:
Voice Match: Voice match can recognize your voice and distinguish it from several other voices. This is a great feature if multiple people in the home will be using the Google device and have their own Google accounts. However, it does mean that Google will be collecting additional information about you, so some people may want to pass.
Music services: Your devices can connect to services like Spotify, Pandora, TuneIn, iHeartRadio, and more. Connect any music services you use so your Home/Nest device can play.
Video services: If you have a Google device that has a display, like the Nest Hub, you should also connect any video services you have. Supported video services include Netflix, CW, CBS, HBO Now, Hulu, Flex, YouTube, Viki, Crackle, Red Bull, Starz, and Google Play Movies and TV.
Google Duo: Some Google devices have the ability to make phone calls or video calls. Home will ask if you want to set this service up via Google Duo.
Google Photos: If you have a device with a display, Home will ask you if you want to connect your Google Photos account so it can show slideshows of your photos. This gives your device an added use, and even if you don’t use Google Photos, you can choose to connect to general pictures from Google’s art gallery instead. Other customization options are also available.
When finished, Google will give you a chance to review all your choices, and then offer a tutorial that shows you general information about how the device works. If you are offered this tutorial, it’s smart to take the chance to learn more! Afterward, you can do as you please with the smart device, but we’re going to talk about several other customization options that users may want to spend time going through.
5. Set up your preferences
To fully personalize your Google Home device, tap the menu button on the left-hand side of the app, then tap Account Preferences. This will take you to a bunch of optional features that Google Assistant offers, so you can make the device uniquely yours based on what suits your lifestyle. If you go under Settings > More settings > Assistant, you can change your assistant’s language or add an additional language.
By tapping on News and then Customize, you can select which news sources you’d like the Google Home to pull from when reading you the news. Whether you’re an NPR junkie, NBC News follower, or Fox News fan, you’ll be able to change the sources at your convenience. If you say “OK, Google, listen to the news,” your Google Home device will then give you a news report that’s customized to your preferences.
6. Change what Google Assistant calls you
If you scroll down in the app to Personal Info, you’ll see a spot that lets you change your nickname, and you can even teach Google Assistant to pronounce it correctly. So whether you want the voice assistant to call you “Ma’am,” “Governor,” or “Mary Poppins,” your wish is your Google Home device’s command.
7. Start talking to Google
Once your Google Home is all set up, it’s time to start using the little guy. There are thousands of questions you can ask Google. Need some inspiration? Give the upper-left-hand menu button a tap, and select “What can you do?” The app will give you some suggestions. For example, if you need to change the volume of the music, say “OK, Google, volume — ” and then say a number between 1 and 10. It’s time to start chatting away with your new voice assistant!
8. Add compatible smart home products
Google Home devices are compatible with more than 30,000 smart home products. In the app, tap on Home Control to add a new device. Be sure that these smart home devices are all on the same Wi-Fi network, otherwise, you won’t be able to control them from the Google Home.
Google is pretty good at recognizing connected devices when possible. However, it’s important to note that there is an additional function when setting up smart plugs. During setup, or afterward when visiting Device settings for your smart plug, you will see an option that says Device Type.
You can then choose which type of appliance is plugged into that smart plug — with options like Smart light, air conditioner, coffee maker, fan, humidifier, and so on. Setting the appliance type can help identify specific smart plugs in the app and may be useful for tracking specific things like energy usage. It also helps Google Assistant understand commands more accurately so you can give commands about the appliance itself, instead of about the smart plug!
Once all the devices are set up, you’ll be able to say “OK Google, dim the lights,” and your Philips Hue bulbs will adjust themselves to your requested setting.
Check out our picks for the best Google Home-compatible devices.
Troubleshooting tips during setup
Did something go wrong when you tried to set up your Nest or Home device? You aren’t alone.
Some people encounter freezes or crashes in the Google Home app. At other times, the app or device tries to connect, but then nothing happens and you’re left waiting. Or you go to look for a Home device but the Home app can’t find any, even though one is plugged it right in front of you.
Since setup hasn’t actually been completed yet, your options here are limited. The best thing to try is rebooting the system and app entirely.
- Restart your Home device. Since it’s not yet properly connecting, restarting is easy. Just unplug the device, wait for about 10 seconds, then plug it back in.
- Restart the Home app. Close the Home app entirely. On Android devices, that means swiping up from the bottom of the screen and holding briefly before letting go, then swiping up on the app window to dismiss it. The method is almost exactly the same on iOS (although for older devices, you can hit the Home button twice and swipe up instead).
This should solve the majority of problems that you encounter as long as you have a steady Wi-Fi connection. If you are still encountering problems, head over to the Google Nest Community and see if anyone shares your particular problem. People have found some innovative workarounds to problems there!
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