the IT city, the I.T. Baby


How my family uses Google Home

Toast Made custom real wood wrapsGoogle Home is a work in progress. It’s absurdly dumb in some areas, and brilliant in others. I shudder to think what these articles will look like in two years or so when the back end has been completely overhauled, but as of March 2018 here’s what me, my wife, and kids use Google Home for.

I have two Google Home regular sized, and two Minis. Someone just gave me the last Mini because he won it and didn’t want it. Score.

Nighttime music (from the Home Mini on the wall)

When the 4yo goes to bed we ask Google to play Maggie’s Not Scary Nighttime Playlist. This is about a two hour long playlist that ends around 10pm and lets her sleep through the night without music.

If she wants she’ll ask it to play some Kidz Bop or Taylor Swift, however we try to stick with playlists because just asking for an artist keeps going for several hours at the moment.

Unfreeze the house

If you’re like me you like the house fairly cool when you sleep. It tends to keep the kids under the covers and everyone seems to function better. But when it’s time to get up I ask Google Home to turn up the heat. It talks to my Nest. My Nest talks to the heater, suddenly the heat it comes.

I can plop a 4yo on a heat vent and charge her for the morning.

Find out about my day

Hey Google, what’s my day look like?

A breakdown of what’s on my calendars, the weather, and some news I’ve asked Google to keep up with then plays. The only real issue I have with this is it doesn’t follow me. I don’t particularly want it to be broadcasting across a speaker group and waking the kiddos 15 minutes early, but I would like the ability to pause upstairs and move my audio downstairs.

Something like “Hey google, Marco” <pause> walks to another room “Hey Google, Polo” <resumes podcast/news/etc>

Tell me a joke / riddle

Tell me a joke and Tell me an animal joke are fairly regular asks from the 4yo. Tell me a riddle I only use on Assistant so may not work with Home.

Set a timer / alarm

Hey Google, set a timer for 15 minutes.

Hey Google, set an alarm for 1:15pm

Hey Google, set a music alarm for 6:20 am


My house is built like a well insulated sanitarium. Every room makes it next to impossible to hear what’s going on in the next room. There are no good lines of sight to yell at someone, the broadcast feature makes it so I can let someone know something from another room.

It also allows my 4yo to say “OK Google, Broadcast…. I am a ghost and I am in your butt!”

Nothing like using technology to make butt jokes.

It’s not particularly perfect, but with Google Home set up and linked to your phone you can also do useful adult stuff like grab your phone, activate assistant from the car, and say “broadcast… I’m pulling in and need help with the groceries”/

It currently lacks the ability for me to just open a channel to the kitchen speaker though, so it’s not a great communication tool. Just a broadcast to everything tool.

What’s the weather?

While this is part of the “tell me about my day” portion of Google, quite often I don’t have time, or have been able to listen to what the weather is like.

Also if I’m traveling out of the weather dome that is Nashville I can find out what lays beyond the bizarre heat sink that is my city “what’s the weather in Franklin, TN?”

What’s the weather tomorrow?

What’s my commute?

Assuming you’ve got work and home set up you can find out what the estimated drive time is. I use this to hurry someone along so we get out the door in time to not be late to school.

Cast movies

This is not something we do much, however sometimes if kid A wants Moana playing on the TV and we’re working, cooking, etc it’s pretty simple to tell Google Home to play it on the downstairs TV and not have to wash whatever off hands, locate black remote, launch netflix, find Moana, play from beginning.

Make phone calls

It’s a speakerphone, it sounds decent. We can call grandma or Pizza Hut.

Turn a plug on and off

I’ve got a smart plug at work, if the thing attached to it is left on for two days plants die. I usually think about unplugging it two and a half hours after I am trying to go to bed. I can turn it off from Google Home.

Set mood lighting

Hey baby, you.. oh wait, I don’t have any of these… damn it… someone send me some WiFi color changing bulbs please? What? *sigh*

Play really bad trivia and games

Google asks my wife “where are you heaviest, Mercury, the moon, Jupiter, Earth?” It asks me “what is 2 + 5?” I am amused.

There are several games you can play, they’re about as polished as a puppy, but amusing and getting better.

Change the assistant voice to mess with people

Nobody changes the voice, but you can. It can respond to the people paired with different voices if it recognizes the wakeup call voice.

Create shopping lists

Elbow deep in dough I realize I’ve been meaning to pick up sunflower seeds. OK Google, put sunflower seeds on my shopping list.

Out shopping have the wife add things to the list from work.

Discover the two year old babbles in Russian

Our two year old is now somewhat verbal, and she attempts to talk to Google as well. Quite often Google will respond in Russian. I’m not sure what it’s saying but the 2yo loves it, laughs, then just looks at us with pity for not getting the joke.


That’s what I use it for currently. My dad uses his to look up information and is extremely ticked off by it, asking when it gets better. So I might be getting another Google Home soon I guess.

There’re a ton of other features, we learn a new way to ask it something every week, but these are the primary things I currently have a use for.

Paul King

Paul King lives in Nashville Tennessee with his wife, two daughters and cats. He writes for Pocketables, theITBaby, and is an IT consultant along with doing tech support for a film production company.