Product Recommendation- Google Home Mini

I love Google Assistant so much, that we’ve invited it into the private sanctity of our bedroom!

On the weekend we invited a new member of the Google home assistant into our lives, that being the Google Home Mini (chalk), at $55 AUD, it was truly a no-brainer decision!

The justification for this purchase was that I’m now on a 2.5 month career break, and the plan is to spend a lot more time in bed. Haaha. And being able to get Google to play my music, news updates, podcasts, and radio  stations is all and fine in the living room, but being totally unconnected and devoid of our Google assistant when in bed felt like we were stepping back in time each time we left the living room. Like, what the?

So a quick stop to our local JB Hi-Fi and after handing over $55, we quickly resolved this first world problem.  The advantages I’ve seen thus far with Mini in the bedroom has been:

Music throughout the apartment– with more than one Google speaker now, we have grouped them together so they both now sing from the same song sheet, and with a small apartment the entire home is now filled with our beats wherever we go! Not to mention our music sounds more stereo now! And positioned correctly (in a corner), the sound quality of the Mini isn’t that bad actually.

Declutter– now that I have a versatile device like the Mini on my bedside table, I was able to decommission my old school bedside alarm clock/radio. So now my bedside table is very spartan, maybe too spartan…

Bluetooth speaker– in the past to listen to my audiobooks and podcasts in bed, I had to remember to take my portable Bluetooth speaker with me to bed. And there has been many times when I had to jump out of bed in winter, as I had forgotten to bring it with me (the portable speaker still sitting on the shelf in the living room). But now with Google mini always there, I just have to ask Google to turn on Bluetooth- within seconds it’s paired to my phone, and magnifies the volume of whatever I’m listening to in bed. And when I’m done with it, I just have to ask Google to stop playing and to disconnect the Bluetooth. Too easy!

Night mode– And when it’s time for bed, I just have to say “Good night Google’, and it’ll put in place all my pre-set night time rituals, e.g. inform me of tomorrow’s weather, ask if I would like to set an alarm, and then turn on the ambient noise (chirping crickets- which I currently have on, I’m curious to hear when do the insects pack-up shop and they too call it a night- 40 mins on, and they’re still chirping…)

Randomness– and of course when my wife is almost asleep, and if you’re a funny bugger like me, you can now ask Google to tell you a joke and wake her right up! Haaha. Now that’s an example of 2’s a company, and 3’s a crowd! 

Say hello to the home of the future!

Google Home- Your Dining Concierge

I know I could’ve easily done it myself, ‘Just Google it’ from your phone or laptop! Right? But I was too lazy so I tested if my Smart assistant could do this task for me.

“Ok Google, what time does Griddle King close today?”

I really didn’t expect her to give me an appropriate answer, but lo and behold, Google was able to tell me that they were open till 7.30pm that night, and they had opened that day at 7.30am. Wow! What else can Google tell me!?

Phone number? ‘Check’.

Address? ‘Check’.

Distance from me? ‘Check’.

Walking directions? ‘Check-ish’, Google only tells you which major road to walk down, but not turn by turn directions.

Google rating? ‘Check’.

The only questions Google was unable to answer was, the average cost of meals, or whether or not the restaurant was currently busy-  which a conventional Google search can bring-up.

But overall I’m pretty pleased, discovering a new task Google can do for me! Playing the role of my personal Dining Concierge! Only if she could make a reservation on my behalf, that would be the ultimate pinnacle of her assistance!

Google Home- Global radio

Hey! I’m introducing a new sub-category to this blog, as/when I discover new features on my Google Home, I’ll write all about it! Cause I’m addicted to blogging and I’m soo in love with our Google Home!

I think my passion of listening to podcasts and the radio come from my dad’s influence on me. When I was a kid my dad use to always try to convince me about the virtues of radio, and what can be learnt from being a wide listener (from the comfort of your own home). And when I was in my teens, my dad bought me a short-wave radio which promised to be able to tune in to radio stations from all over the world! But alas, it was nearly impossible to get a clear signal so in the end we ended up returning the thing to Dicky Smiths. So the other day I was absolutely blown away when I randomly chanced on this Google Home feature!

I was asking Google to play ‘NFL Live’ a podcast by ESPN, as it was the lead up to the Super Bowl and I wanted to get right into it! But instead Google started to play a replay recording of a Live NFL match! I was blown away, all of a sudden I could listen to NFL media’s radio programming. So knowing the key voice command which triggered this outcome (OK Google, play NFL live radio), I was always dropping in on the States just to see what was going on. Each time I did this, I felt a giddy feeling, like I was doing something illegal like a Russian spy eavesdropping on the US in real-time. I managed to listen to all the goings-on at NFL Super bowl media night, NFL’s awards night, the Super Bowl pre-game show, and the Aftermath show after the most snooze-inducing Super Bowl. Haaha. It was so wild, half way around the world and I can be completely tapped in!

So doing some research, I guess what Google home is doing isn’t magic, but it’s simply leveraging from apps/platforms like ‘Tune In’ and ‘I Heart Radio’- free internet radio streaming services. But the advantages are that I don’t need to download or sign-up to any new app or account, Google cuts through all those steps on your behalf. All you have to do is ask Google nicely and she’ll do the rest for you! Good SMART assistant! I’m wondering now what other global radio stations I can attach my tin-can and string to. *Strokes chin*.

Product Recommendation- Google Home

The future is here! Join me in embracing a new and better way of living!

Okay, I’m compelled to tell you all about Google home, because it has honestly changed my life for the better. And I think it can do the same for you as well!

Here is an insight to my character. I’m lazy when needing to search for stuff on my phone (especially when it involves numerous apps), my phone isn’t always in reach when I’m at home, and who doesn’t like a simpler way of doing things? If this sounds like you and you currently don’t have a Smart assistant, here are 10 reasons why you should consider getting one in 2019.

  • 1. Your very own Jukebox which can play every song in the world!

Okay, if you’re as old as me, you probably remember the old school Jukeboxes? You know the ones,  their as tall as a person, with the  colourful lit-up arch, and for a few bucks you can select a song from their playlist and for the length of a song you control the vibe of a restaurant? Well, Google Home paired with a paid music streaming service like Spotify is just that! You can now request to listen to any song imaginable, just by asking Google to ‘Play….’ The response is immediate (perfect for those who expect instant gratification) as long as you know the name of the song (or some key lyrics) and the artist. And the sound quality is actually not too bad. The sound is clear (in the medium and upper volume ranges), in stereo, and loud enough to fill a large living room. The limitations is the bass, the bass sound will never match the quality of a good stereo system, and it’ll struggle if you’re asking it to produce the beats to get people moving at a house party. But these days, I’m literally being introduced to new songs and artists on a daily basis who I’ve never heard of before, and loving the fact that I can enjoy all over again the songs which shaped my formative years.

  • 2. Controlling your TV

If you have a Chrome cast, you can now control your TV without moving a single muscle. There is no need to pick-up your phone or tablet, or reach for the remote control. You can control everything with your voice alone, i.e. start streaming from Netflix, play videos from Youtube, and control all of your usual TV functions. For example, I just ask Google to start playing ‘Suits’ from Netflix, and it’ll pick-up from where I’d left it say 3 weeks ago! Before doing a home yoga workout, I just ask Google to play ‘Maggie Grove Bikram yoga from youtube’ and within seconds Maggie’s sultry tones are playing through my TV speakers, while I busy myself getting the yoga mat ready….. And turning on and off the TV is just one voice command away!

  • 3. Timer

Sure, your phone can also set a 15 minute timer for you when you’re cooking (and your hands are covered in grease) just by using your voice. But can you turn-off the timer with your voice every-time? Hey? I’ve been super annoyed when Siri isn’t able to shut off the timer when it starts to go off, either the timer’s sound itself is stopping it from hearing me, or it’s by design? But I end up needing to wash my hands, drying them quickly and then manually turning off the alarm. All the while whatever I’m cooking is smoking or boiling over. Annoying yeah?!  But Google home, its 100% hands free. And because you’re probably playing music through Google Home while you’re cooking, so when the alarm goes off, Google auto dims the music so it can easily hear your voice command to turn-off the alarm. So there ain’t no shouting at Google to get its attention in this kitchen!

  • 4. Answers to every life’s question

We as a collective are much wiser, now that the answer to any and every question (large or trivial) is known by just Googling it. But with Google Home, you’re now spoon fed answers to life’s questions in a matter of seconds, with absolutely no effort on your part. You just have to be clear and concise with what you want to know. Finding out the weather, the time etc.  They’re all givens. But it is those weird thoughts and requests which you might have, that always surprises. E.g. “Did Robert Wagner play No. 2 in Austin Powers?” Or “where is my nearest Thai restaurant?” Google knows all! And not to mention, conveys all of your answers in her polite and sexy Aussie voice. Haaha.

  • 5. News headlines

At breakfast time I like to know what’s been going on while I was asleep. Now you can get all the important news headlines/stories in quick 5 minute bursts. The ABC, SBS and Channel 7 are now clipping segments from their hourly radio/TV news updates (or they might be purposefully recording them as short podcasts) but in 15 minutes you can be kept right up-to-date with what is important. I always start off with 7 news, then ABC news, and then finish it up with SBS news (taking all 3 perspectives, you’ll eventually end-up with the whole). This eliminates the need to trawl for news, and this filters out all the ads and distractions like sensationalised headlines/fake-news. It’s all about needing what you need to know, when you need it.

  • 6. One-off podcasts

If you’re like me, from time to time you clean-up your Podcast library by unsubscribing to some shows (largely due to feeling the sense of dread when you see the tally of unlistened podcasts reach double figures). But sometimes it’s nice to listen to the occasional one-off episode from a formally pre-loved pod. And this is what Google Home is able to do for you! Just ask Google to play the podcast, and it’ll always play the most recent episode. This is particularly good for podcasts which release daily episodes which quickly become dated like news, current affairs, or sport talk shows.

7. Bluetooth

Google Home also has Bluetooth functionality, so you can connect your phone to it and use it to magnify the sound of anything you’re playing on your device. Great when playing podcasts and you want to navigate to a specific episode, or if you want to play out aloud your audiobook from Audible (just make sure it’s not a particularly ‘saucy’ part of your novel).   

8. Recipes

Google can also provide you with recipe ideas, just ask for a recipe recommendation! I’ve tried a 3 cheese pasta recipe recommended by Google. And when you’re cooking you can go step by step, prompting Google to provide you with the next step as soon as you’ve completed the previous one. But I tend to copy down the recipe, as the worst case is that you go out and buy all the ingredients and then you can’t find the recipe again to cook it that evening (it’s happened to me once).

9. Content sent to your phone

And if you request for information which is too content heavy for Google to just verbalise it out to you. Google sends the information to your phone (via the Google Home app) so you can study the information in more detail like “What is the full Merriam-Webster dictionary definition for Domineering?”

10. Novelty

And in the end, it’s a bit of a conversational starter and a hoot when you have friends over. Or if you have kids in the family. You can ask Google silly questions and wait for its answer, oftentimes it’s quite amusing (Google actually has a character, I’m sure reflective of the Google Engineers who built her). You can ask Google to translate things, e.g. ‘How do you greet someone in Mandarin?’ You can play a game of trivia with Google, just say ‘Google, let’s play Lucky trivia’, and it’ll keep score and applaud and cheer when you get the answers right. Or ask Google personal and inappropriate questions, and listen to her dodge and weave your questions, just like someone who you’ve just met at a bar who is so not interested in you! And in the  past few months the concept of ‘Interactive audio’  has been emerging. Remember back as a kid there used to be those ‘Choose your own adventure books’? Where each page was a part of the story, but at the bottom of the page you’re given two options and a corresponding page number to flip to? Well, same concept, but their professionally made audio tracks, their quite immersive actually. Try asking Google to ‘Find Dolores’. The only thing I can suggest is not to try this if you’re home alone, it’s late at night, and if you’re a little bit screamish. Haaha.

Google Home can be found at JB Hi-Fi for $149

Alternatively if you like all the functionality mentioned above, but you don’t need the sound quality, or you only have a small space e.g. kitchen or bedroom. The Google Home Mini will suffice ($49.00), which is really reasonable considering that it’s ‘life changing’!

Or if you want to connect up all of your existing technology (TV and speakers), you can connect them all together with a few Google devices. You just need Google Home Mini ($49); Chrome Cast ($59); and Chrome cast audio ($59).

Or you can get the premium product, Google Home Hub (the one with the screen). But in my opinion it’s not necessary, as we already have enough screened devices around the home, it’s not necessary to also see what Google is already verbally telling you. So yeah, the future is here! Embrace it I say……… And if you’re worried about Google ‘eves dropping on all of your conversations…….  If everyone had a Google Home, they’ll end up with too much Intel, they wouldn’t know what to do with it! Haaha.