Google Smart Home: Leveling Up or Lost Cause?

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All right, I’m going to be honest here. I haven’t used Google as much as Amazon
in my smart home. Mainly because Amazon has had more automation
options. But with the new Pixel 6, I wanted to give
Google another chance. Especially with the new features to see how
it can improve my smart home. Or is it a lost cause? Well, one of the main advantages of having
an Android phone is the tight integration between the phone and the Google Smart Home. I don’t need a smart speaker in every room
which is convenient. I could just set the phone down on my desk
and I have a smart display right there… right? Unfortunately, there’s a problem. The assistant asks me to unlock my phone for
anything, beyond asking about the weather. Got it, but first, you’ll have to unlock
your device. Turn on the office fan? Nope. What’s on my calendar for today, yeah forget
about it! I troubleshooted everything I could find online
and nothing seemed to fix it.

Apparently it’s been a recurring problem
for years. It’s too bad because once the phone is unlocked,
the assistant is very helpful. If I change the lights with my voice, a slider
comes up so I can quickly adjust it even more. I really like this design. Using an Android phone is still convenient
though, because you can just swipe down and control devices and groups that are in Google
Home. Similar to HomeKit on an iPhone. It does take a second to load, but to me this
is faster than unlocking my phone and asking the assistant to control my lights with my
voice. When it comes to phone calls, Google has a
few tricks up its sleeve. With the new Pixel 6, if your phone is ringing,
you can just say answer and the phone will answer the call and automatically put it on
speaker phone. You don’t have to say the trigger or wake
word for this to work, so that’s pretty sweet.

And it does not use voice-match, so anyone
that says the word “answer” could answer your phone. But it won’t work if it’s in a sentence,
like if someone’s saying, are you going to answer that?” So that’s good to see. Google Pixel phones can still have the assistant
answer and screen calls which is extremely useful with all the robo calls out there. I think it’s so funny to have a robot on
my phone, answering other robot calls.

It’s like such a strange time we live in! One thing I was curious to try was calling
from a Nest Hub to my phone and using the ANSWER feature in the new Pixel phones. Turns out, this only works on actual phone
calls, and not Google Duo calls. Lame. So basically, my idea of using the Pixel phone
as a smart display isn’t working out like I hoped. So what about automations? Well don’t worry, it’s not all doom and
gloom. But, it’s not great either. Let’s start off first with things I liked. Bedtime and morning routines are pretty useful.

When I’m getting ready for bed I can tell
the assistant “good night”. It will tell me my first event on the calendar
the next morning. Then it will ask me what time I want to set
the alarm for. “What time should I set the alarm for?” That way I can set it based on what’s on
my calendar the next day, which makes sense. Then if my phone is below a certain battery
level, it will remind me to charge it. “Heads up, here’s a reminder to charge
your Pixel 6 Pro. Your battery is at 55%. Then it turns down the volume and plays some
sleep sounds which are relaxing. What’s really cool is that the morning routine
starts, when I stop the alarm on the display next to my bed. People always ask me about a morning routine
that adjusts for different schedules, and this is a great and easy solution.

It tells me the weather, calendar, and instead
of reading me the news it does something better. It can read me articles on specific topics
I choose…which are usually less depressing than the news. Shout out to Brian from the channel Automate
Your Life, where I got this idea from! Another interesting thing you can do with
Google is Daylong routines. You can only activate this when your first
create a routine, because it’s much different than the others. The way it works is: if you have a consistent
schedule when things should happen, you can add actions throughout the day. Then you can see it all from one view, as
opposed to multiple scheduled routines scattered around. I really like this because the more I can
consolidate my routines, the better. The last thing I like is home and away routines. I can set the camera on my Nest Hub Max to
turn on when everyone is away from the house and turn off the camera when someone comes
home. With Amazon you can only set up a routine
based on the location of one device.

So you can not say when everyone is gone or
if just one person is home. Google routines do have the advantage here. All right, so what do I NOT like about Google’s
automations? With the Pixel 6 I can stop an alarm by just
saying “stop”, and that’s great. The problem is that I can not trigger a routine
when the alarm is stopped on my phone.

It can only happen if the alarm is stopped
on a smart display or speaker. So another big missed opportunity for the
Pixel 6. Another is the delay available in routines. I’m glad to see Google added this, but the
minimum time is 1 minute. Amazon can go down to 5 seconds. But seriously, just let me type in how many
seconds for a delay. What’s the big deal! There are a couple of actions in the routines
to put your phone on do not disturb or turn off the ringer. I thought it could be great to schedule a
routine to mute my phone every morning if there was a recurring work meeting or something.

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Or put my phone in do not disturb mode for
a movie. Here’s the issue. If I schedule a routine or if I start it from
a smart speaker, it won’t change my phone. I have to start the routine from my phone,
which kind of defeats the purpose. I mean if I have to unlock my phone and say
the voice command, I might as well change it on my phone right there! Of course you also still can not start routines
based on other devices like sensors. Google says that’s coming soon but they’ve
been saying it for years so… Dad, when can I get a smartphone? Hmm how about when Google routines can be
triggered by a sensor. I’ll be an old grandma by then! Exactly. There is another way to trigger Google Routines
which is very convenient.

On Android, you can save the routine as a
Widget button to go on the home screen. This is actually really useful for those routines
I run often. So even though Google Routines can not be
triggered by as many options as an Amazon routine, there are some unique things you
can do, especially if you have an Android phone. Now let’s talk about smart speakers and
displays. Because Google does a pretty good job with
these. Google generally does not update their smart
home hardware as often as Amazon does. And that might seem like a bad thing, but
in my opinion it’s actually a good thing. Let me explain. The Nest Hub Max came out years ago and is
still fast and amazing. Amazon has released many smart displays, but
most of them are slow and will probably need to be upgraded. So I think Google has a better approach. Also no matter what I do, Amazon seems to
find a way to sneak in some kind of ad or self promotion on my Echo Show.

It makes me so angry but I’ve never had
this problem with Google’s Nest Hub displays. There have been some great updates to the
Google displays so you can quickly access apps. They have always been really intuitive to
use and are just a much better experience compared with Amazon’s. Now it’s not all perfect for Google. If I’m talking to the assistant on my phone
and the speaker across the room hears me, it will respond from the speaker. I hate this and Amazon does a much better
job knowing which speaker I’m speaking to. When it comes to TVs there's a new convenient
feature. With the latest Android update, you have a
remote for the google TV. I tried it out on the latest Chromecast and
it seemed to work okay. There was an occasional delay but overall
it’s usable.

The thing that I like the most is that I can
turn the TV on and off using the built-in remote on my phone. Even though Google Nest Displays aren’t
perfect, they are much better than Amazon displays. So much so that after using them lately, I
might only use Google’s displays going forward. Overall I’ve enjoyed using an Android phone
again. Especially some of the shortcuts to quickly
interact with my smart home. The Pixel 6 Pro is an excellent smartphone. I love being able to erase objects in pictures,
and the screen looks amazing with the fast refresh rate. Also accepting or declining phone calls with
only saying one word is really convenient.

I’m a little disappointed that I couldn’t
use more of those new Pixel features like answering a video call with just saying answer. The good thing is that ANY Android phone will
work well with your Google Smart Home. To me the Pixel 5a is the best value for what
you get. I might use it over the Pixel 6 Pro because
of the smaller, lighter form factor. So do I think the Google Smart Home is a lost
cause? No not yet. If I want to trigger automations based one
other devices like a motion sensor, then I can just use SmartThings or Home Assistant. Yes it’s convenient that Amazon Routines
can do that, but they have enough limitations that it’s better to run the majority of
automations with SmartThings or Home Assistant anyways.

I just wish Google would enable or fix some
of the issues I mentioned in the video. Like being able to use the assistant from
the phone’s lock screen. That would really change how I interact with
my smart home. But let me know what you guys think, if you’re
using Google or not. Thanks for watching! The other thing I have and you don’t is
all my wake words. I can respond to many other wake words. Anything that sounds like Hey and my name. Hey Goober
Yes, can I help you? Hey I want a turn, Hey Goo Goo
Hi, what can I do for you? Please stop waking me up with such atrocities. Wow, I cannot believe this. Hey Poodle
Hello, what do you want me to do? Woof woof. Haha this is insane. Okay if it responds to this I am going to
lose it. Hey Poo Poo. Yes I heard my name. Why do you keep laughing? Oh wow, get out of here! Very funny guys.

Go back to using your Amazon Fire phones from
2014. Okay boomer
Hi, may I help you? Haha you found another one! How many can we find!.

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