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Google Home app getting huge overhaul, preview it soon (Updated)
- The Google Home app will get a visual refresh as well as new features.
- Most notably, Automations are here which are more advanced and customizable Routines.
- You can test out a public preview of the new app soon.
Update, October 4, 2022 (04:20 PM ET): The article below erroneously states that the preview of the new Google Home app will rollout today. However, Google informed us that its original briefing materials were incorrect and the rollout is not happening today, but will “in the coming weeks.” We have updated the article slightly to reflect this new information.
Original article, October 4, 2022 (09:00 AM ET): The Google Home app is where you go for all things related to your smart home. It’s received a few visual overhauls over the years, with the most recent one being in 2019. That update brought it to where it is now, with a list of device controls with a Material Design aesthetic.
Today, Google is announcing another huge overhaul to the app. Not only will it look and function differently than it has, but it will also be more powerful and customizable for your specific smart home.
Google won’t be rolling out the new Google Home app for a while. However, you can give it a shot
today (this will roll out “in the coming weeks,” per updated information from Google) by enrolling in the public preview, which is open in select areas. Just fire up the Home app and find the info related to the public preview. You can then give it a shot. If you don’t like it, you can always roll back until Google works out the kinks.
New Google Home app: A visual refresh with new features
Google has reorganized things within the app as well as introduced some visual changes. If you are using Android 12 or Android 13, you won’t be surprised by the overall look of the app. It strongly aligns with the Material You overhaul Android 12 received in 2021.
On the reorganization front, there are now three categories of controls:
- Spaces — These are customizable collections of various smart home gadgets. Right now, the Home app lists things out by room: kitchen, bedroom, living room, etc. That’s great, but it is pretty limiting in that you can’t easily control multiple devices in different rooms. Spaces allow you to categorize devices how you see fit. For example, you could have a baby monitor in one room and a camera in a different room focused on a place where your child plays often. You could now put these two items into a Spaces category called “Baby.” Now you can easily see all the baby-related smart products in one spot.
- Favorites — This one doesn’t really need an explanation. You can now favorite certain devices that you go to the most often. This brings them front-and-center within the Google Home app for easier access.
- Media — At the bottom of your Home feed you’ll now see a media widget. This will auto-detect what media is happening in your house and give you the proper controls for that moment. If you’re playing music on your speakers, there would be song controls. If you’re watching TV, there would be television remote controls. It should offer you exactly what you need when you need it.
Google is also bringing over some of the best features of the Nest app into Google Home. This includes a much better and far more intuitive camera feed for viewing what’s going on around your home. There are now fewer taps to find what you need.
Finally — and this is huge — the Google Home app is coming to the web! This will allow you to view your camera feeds from a web browser instead of your phone. Consequently, there will also be a Wear OS-based Google Home app which will debut with the Google Pixel Watch.
In the Home app, as it exists now, you have Routines to help you with various conditions for multiple devices. For example, you could have a routine in which you say, “I’m about to eat dinner,” which dims the lights, turns on some music, and locks the front door. Routines might seem powerful but they are actually pretty limiting.
For example, Routines need to be triggered by either a voice command or one of Google’s pre-set triggers. The new Automations, though, will be much more open-ended. These will allow you to actually create Routines based on any trigger you can imagine across your entire lineup of smart devices.
Automations are a gift to power users.
As an example, you could set up an Automation triggered by a motion sensor outside your bedroom. When that sensor detects motion from 6:00 PM to 10:00 PM, it could turn on a bunch of lights, turn off some others, and shut the blinds on the bottom floor of the house. This kind of granular control has been unheard of in the Google Home app until now.
As if this wasn’t enough power placed in the hands of smart homeowners, Google has promised a full script editor to land sometime in 2023. This would allow you to actually code out Automations throughout your home, which could finally fully realize the whole idea of a “smart” home.