(Pocket-lint) - Google's smart AI-assistant speakers are backed by Google's powerful search algorithms and ecosystem, making them a great addition to any smart home. If you're considering a purchase - or you've been given a couple as a gift - you might be wondering what multiple Google Home or Nest Hub devices are capable of.
Strategically placed around your home, can several Nest Hub devices improve your life? This feature explains what you can do with multiple Google Home speakers and why it's worthwhile.
Setting up multiple Google Nest Hub devices
Getting started with setting up multiple Google Home devices is a breeze. You can mix and match the smart home speakers too, meaning you can opt for a Google Nest Mini in the bedroom and a full-sized Google Home Max in the living room or just a multitude of Minis dotted around the house. The choice is yours.
Start by downloading the Google Home app for your mobile device (if you haven't already) and make sure your Google Home devices are plugged in and turned on.
Once that's done, open the app and tap "get started" - you'll then be able to follow the instructions within the app to set up the speakers and connect them to your account.
If this is your first time setting up a Google Home device, then we'd also suggest taking a look at our tips and tricks article to make the most of your initial setup.
Repeat the process until all the devices are attached to your account and up and running. Then the real fun begins.
Communicating between rooms with broadcast
One of the joys of the Google Home system is the ability to broadcast messages across devices in the home. This means that you can send voice messages from one of the smart speakers to all the other Google Home devices. We've covered how to set up broadcasting in a separate feature, but once setup is complete, it's really as simple as saying "OK Google, broadcast..." followed by the message you want to send.
This functionality records a snippet of your voice which is then replayed on other the other devices around the house. It's worth noting that if people aren't expecting to hear the message they might be taken off guard, so it's worth ensuring you grab their attention first. "OK Google, broadcast listen up everyone, it's time for dinner" is bound to get feet dashing to the dinner table.
Controlling one Google Home device with another
Within the Google Home app, it is possible to name your speakers to whatever you choose to help you to identify them. To do this:
- Open the Google Home app.
- Click on the home icon at the bottom
- Scroll down to the relevant device
- Click the cog to access the settings
- Then find "name" and set an appropriate device name.
Doing this offers more benefits than just being able to easily identify each speaker within the app. Some commands to Google can then be used to control one Google Home device from another. For example, in the kitchen saying "OK Google, play a relaxing playlist on my living room speaker" would do just that.
This functionality is limited at the moment, you cannot set timers or alarms for one speaker from another as of now, but we expect to see improvements here in future.
Setting up groups for multi-room audio
If you're interested in having music thumping throughout your house, then the good news is Google Home devices are capable of that too. All it requires is a few setup steps and you're away.
Follow these steps to create the group:
- Open the Google Home app
- Click on the home icon at the bottom of the screen
- Click the add symbol in the top left corner
- Click "create speaker group"
- Select the Google Home speakers you want to include then pick a logical name for the group
Once that's done, you're then ready to cast audio to the speakers in that group. Multi-room music playback supports Spotify, TuneIn Radio and Google Play Music, so all you need to do is say "OK Google, play my party playlist downstairs" to get the tunes thumping (replace "party playlist" and "downstairs" with the name of your song/playlist and group name respectively).
Unfortunately, Google does not support multi-room audio for other things you might like. Podcasts, for example, can only be played on a single device. Alarms and timers are also limited to the device they're requested on. If you set a timer using a Google Home in the kitchen, it won't carry through to the other Google Home speakers in the lounge or bedroom, for example, which is a shame as such a functionality would be useful.
Enabling multi-user support and family controls
With multiple Google Home devices around the house, it's reasonable to assume that you'll have several people with access to them. Google Home is capable of supporting multiple users with a few simple setup steps.
- Open the Google Home app
- Tap on the home icon at the bottom of the display
- Click "Invite home member" under your Home name at the top of the screen
- Input their email address
- Read what's shared including all the devices and submit
We've covered how to do this before in more depth, it essentially involves each person linking their Google account to the Google Home devices within the app on their own phone or tablet and going through the voice training model so the smart speakers will recognise them when they make a request.
Setting up multiple user support ensures that day briefings, calendars and even playlists are properly synced and all members of the household get the results they're expecting when talking to Google. This functionality doesn't require multiple Google Home devices, but it's certainly worth setting up if you do have a few.
Google Home also supports "Family Link" which allows stricter parental controls between a child's Google account and the Google Home device. This helps with the parental management of a youngster's internet usage with Google Home and with their devices, ensuring they stay safe online whatever they're doing. It also helps prevent accidental access to inappropriate content which might be cast through Google Home to a Chromecast or other castable device.
Voice matching for music streaming
The added benefit of adding multiple users is each member of the household can use voice matching to request music from their own preferred music streaming service. Theoretically, this means people will no longer ruin your Spotify playlists with their unwanted tunes.
Follow the steps above to invite each member to the household, then click "add" on the homepage of the app, to find "music and audio" settings. From there you can then select your preferred music service. Get each member of the home to do the same and link their own account.
It's also worth getting each person to set up voice match properly to train Google Assistant to recognise the different voices in the home.
To do this:
- Open the Google Home app
- Click on the settings icon in the circle within the top section
- Scroll down to Google Assistant Services
- Click "Voice Match" to teach Google Assistant your voice and invite others to do the same
From there you'll also see which devices are included and are capable of recognising your voice. Then as long as the voice is recognised, the right account will be used for each person in the home, giving a much more personal experience.
A similar process allows you to do the same for Netflix too, which ensures everyone's watching and listening to their favourite content without messing up other people's profiles.
Find out more about setting up voice match here.
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Reminders, calendars and more
As it's linked to your Google account, reminders, shopping lists and your calendar are synced across all devices. If you set a reminder on one Google Home device, you'll get a notification light on the others at the specific time to nudge you about it at the appropriate time.
As another example, saying "OK Google, add milk to my shopping list" will do just that. That shopping list can then be accessed from any Google Home speaker by just asking "OK Google, what's on my shopping list". To make life easier, you can also get Google to send the list to your phone by asking it to do so straight afterwards - "OK Google, send that to my phone."
The shopping list is then sent to your phone where it's accessible via Google Assistant or directly from Google's dedicated site.
Are multiple Google Home devices worth it?
There's plenty of functionality that works across multiple Google Home devices that makes having more than one worthwhile.
This multi-device use does, of course, depend on how you plan to use the speakers but even as a basic multi-room audio system it's a real treat. As with the Amazon Echo line-up, it's not necessary to have multiple devices in your house to get a great smart home experience, but it does enhance it and will make your life easier in a number of ways.