Skip to main content

How to program Google Home to talk to you

Thankfully, I don't have to imagine it — this is actually my life. When IFTTT announced integration with Google Assistant, I logged on and started setting up a few tricks of my own. My initial inclination was to have Google Home recite me my daily mantras, sort of as a way to remember them for each day of the week. But from there, I realized I could program Google Home to simply have an entire conversation with me using a few key phrases.

I've also programmed Google Home to broadcast our WiFi password to our house guests. The best part of the feature is that I don't have to be the one to ask it. Google Home will immediately respond to anyone shouting out "Okay, Google," which makes it easy for me to focus on getting drinks for my guests while they furiously log on to save their cellular data.

If you're curious about setting this feature up yourself, read on.

Start with IFTTT

IFTTT already has a wide range of available applets for Google Assistant, which works with the Pixel and Google Home. The nice thing about some of these formulas is that you can use them even if you're out and about as long as you have a compatible phone on you.

To start, select the option to make a New Applet. Search for Google Assistant as the service (you can simply search for "Assistant" to bring it up) and select "Say a simple phrase." This is where you'll program Google Assistant to reply to certain phrases.

Make it dynamic

Before we move on, I want you to take a second to visualize how you'd want artificial intelligence to reply to you. Do you like a smarmy tone or would you rather have a robot sound like a robot? You can program Google Home just as you like it by choosing the right diction.

Okay. Now think about what you'd want to say to Google Home to trigger the formula. Make the phrase easy to say and as few words as possible, for your own sake, though do take advantage of the option to add two other ways of triggering the formula. I'd also suggest avoiding using punctuation, sine that's not the way Assistant will parse your question. Once you've figured out what to say, you can instruct Google Home on how to respond.

Then that

The only bummer with IFTTT is that you have to program a then that for the formula to work. This is great news if you're a Tech Head and your house is filled to the brim with services that integrate into IFTTT, but it's sort of useless when you're simply trying to talk to Google Home.

So, here's what I do. I set up Google Home to send me a notification every time I pull this trick out of the hat. To do so, simply search for "notifications" as the "then that" formula of the applet. Once it's set up, the IFTTT applet will push a dismissible notification to your smartphone. You could also use this to your advantage: For instance, I programmed IFTTT so that when one of my guests asks for the WiFi password, I'm notified on my smartphone.

How do you talk to Google Home?

Tell us in the comments! What have you programmed Google Home to say?

Florence Ion was formerly an editor and columnist at Android Central. She writes about Android-powered devices of all types and explores their usefulness in her everyday life. You can follow her on Twitter or watch her Tuesday nights on All About Android.

20 Comments
  • Can you do this if you don't have a Pixel?
  • No Pixel here, just posted a tweet using my Google Home.
  • You need a device with Google assistant so right now that's the pixel, Google home and google's upcoming smart watches (rumored). I'm sure more phones will get Google assistant next year.
  • You don't need a pixel device, or one with assistant. I am using a Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge plus
  • I have an HTC phone and a Samsung Tab A, works great on both.
  • You only need a Pixel or Assistant if you want to trigger the command *from the phone.* If you just want to set up the IFTTT and get the Android notification, you can use any device, and trigger it from the Google Home.
  • I programmed an IFTTT applet to turn on a WeMo switch that the Christmas Tree is plugged into. When I ask Google Home to turn it on it tells me it is turning on the Christmas Tree and "Merry Christmas", but when I ask to turn it off, it tells me it is turning off the tree and that "You're a mean one Mr. Grinch".
  • That's great.
  • That's so awesome!
  • Not much yet, but but I have it set so that when I say "bye bye," it answers " later, Gator," and trends of all of the lights except for the porch light.
  • Also, I'm using wink and a nexus 5x. No need for a pixel.
  • I think that both Google with the Home, and Amazon with the Echo are missing a major feature on IFTTT. A simple action to make an announcement.
  • Is there a good way to add a slight pause to what's being said? My wifi password isn't a word or phrase, just random numbers and letters, so without any pauses it makes it incredibly difficult to follow what's being said, and that's with me already knowing the password.
  • Maybe simplify your wifi password? After all, your giving it out. Also, i would like a way to have no response. When i ask Google to turn up the tv volume i want to hear the tv not the canned response every time.
  • I had same problem, solved it by adding periods. Periods appear to act as pauses. Commas probably do too.
  • I failed at setting up a simple welcome home greeting. The ghome is very restricted right now, I'm sure that will change in the next few months. For now I'll settle with playing the name game with buck. On ifttt i always set short responses since i use them often. I prefer responses like, k, as you wish, yep, kk, etc.
  • Purchased the Echo when it launched and now had the Google Home for almost five weeks. Basically the Echo you use commands where you talk to the Google Home naturally. The Echo will handle some fuzziness but fundamentally they are variations to commands instead of fundamentally understanding what you are saying. So with the Echo you might do a quick Google search with a lyric to get a song name and then ask the Echo to play. With the Google Home you skip the Google search step. I am starting to learn a shorter english as the inference is so incredible with the Google Home. So say "hey google play sting gwen bottle on tv". Google figures out that I want to watch a video of Gwen Stefani and Sting singing message in a bottle on my TV. It then turns the TV on, sets the proper input, and the video starts playing. Our brains inference capabilities allow us to communicate with one another in a compressed manner. Information can be inferred versus being said. This is what Google is doing and for some (many?) things they can do better than a human.
    Maybe it is because I have an engineering background but the Google Home from a technology standpoint and what Google is doing just blows me away. The demo that most blows people away is the Google Photos with the Google Home. A bunch of people over for the holiday and someone asks how was your trip? You just say would you like to see a few pics? You just say "hey google show my photos of kenny in Maui". The TV turns itself on, input set, and photos of my son Kenny playing on the beach in Maui displays". Someone asks did you guys snorkel? I simply ask Google to show photos of Molokini and then photos of us snorkeling at Molokini and unfortunately pics of where I forced the kids to Kayak to Molokini from the hotel. Wind changed, almost died, fantastic Coast Guard picked us up and took us back to the hotel where we were yelled at because suppose to check in once an hour. Just what happens when wife does not join me and the kids on vacation. Then my oldest said I remember snorkeling there. Then you just say show Tommy snorkeling at Molokini. My wife had scanned and loaded 1000s of photos into Google Photos and to the shock of my oldest son photos both above and underwater display of him at Molokini. This is simply off the charts incredible from a technology standpoint. Might be a bias for me but simply wow!
    Basically one shutter click and nothing else and three months later you are in your family room without touching a single thing showing the photos. There is no more friction that can be removed.
  • How do you have it set up so that it turns the tv on and changes the input? Harmony, or a tv that supports casting?
  • on my setup, the harmony hub changes the input as part of the harmony "activity"
  • I have tried this step by step and can't get it to work..."Im sorry I can't help you with that" is all I get back from Google Home. I swear I set it up exactly as I should. Am I forgetting a permission or something?