What you need to know
- Google has rolled out a new update for the Google Home app.
- The update brings changes to media controls, making it easier to select devices to play media on.
- Users can now trigger Routines within the app, and set defaul devices.
Google has been busy. While it works on adding new features for Maps and Assistant in preparation for the holiday season, the company is also working on improving its Google Home app with some redesigns and the return of a feature that was lost in a recent update. And while they might not be the most exciting, the changes made in version 2.31 go a long way to making controls more intuitive and user-friendly.
The first change is focused on media playback. Users on the newest version of the app will notice that when playing media, it's now much easier to designate where they want it to be cast. This also includes easy access to volume controls on the available Google Assistant speakers. The new design reneges on the previous changes Google made last year to the media controls, which introduced a card-based style with a blurred background. It took up a large portion of the display and did not make for easy device access. You can see the before and after below:
Another change to the Google Home marks the return of in-app Routine triggers. The feature was questionably removed back in September, which limited the effecteveness of the popular home automation feature, so it's nice to see that Google brought this back. Now when users select Routines in the Google Home app, the various routines will now include a play button which will trigger the selected routine. Before, selecting a routine would only allow users to edit them. And at the bottom of the list, there is now an option to choose the default device the routines are triggered on.
The last noticeable change is in the Wi-Fi setting, where Google has now included a "preferred activities" section. It was noted over at 9to5Google that this menu seems to include different sections such as gaming and video conferencing, and would prioritize Wi-Fi performance for services like Stadia, Google Meet, and Zoom.
The new Google Home update is available now on the Play Store (opens in new tab).
The Ultimate Home Console
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The Google Nest Hub Max is the ultimate smart home display. Check who's at the door, join a video chat, control your smart home products, blast some music with its booming speaker, or put on some Netflix while you're cooking.
Derrek is a long-time Nokia and LG fanboy who loves astronomy, videography, and sci-fi movies. When he's not working, he's most likely working out or smoldering at the camera.
Does anyone actually go into the home app to control stuff and play media?
I sometimes use it to control the media playing out of my Google Nest Mini. Also, when "Hey Google" doesn't give me the correct answer to "Hey Google, what song is this?" (I really don't care about the Wikipedia definition of what a song is) I'll open the Google Home app to see what it is.
You have kids? They ever turn the volume up so high you can't get "okay google" to trigger? Yeah, media control from software is good.
"Hurry," said the software lead, "the design people are busy with logos, let's bring back all the good features and fix WiFi to be useable"
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