Google Home Device

“Google Home” at home in Greymouth

Google Home Device
It’s small but sounds surprisingly good

Google Home devices don’t seem to have arrived in many homes in Greymouth and its surrounds yet.

Well – Perhaps you are curious about them?

I purchased mine a couple of months back from the New Zealand Dick Smith Electronics site.  They currently sell for $179. Mine took about two weeks to be delivered from Australia. Since it arrived, I have used it every day. The Google Home device is basically a wireless microphone and speaker that is hooked up to your home network and Google.  You ask Google questions, or make requests, and Google responds helpfully – well… most of the time.


“Hey Google – Good morning!”

Google Home:

“Good morning Russell – It is 7.13am. Right now it is 10 degrees and cloudy. The forecast today for Greymouth is a high of 15 degrees and sunny. Your commute to work is approximately 8 minutes with traffic slower than normal.”

Google then announces a list of my personal appointments for the day, and any reminders that have been set. After this, Google Home goes on to play the news from the sources that I have set. (NPR Technology news, Followed by the BBC World News.) And finally concludes with “That’s all for now – Have a nice day!”

I like that! This is an effortless way to start the day as I make my coffee and toast my four slices of Vogels Bread. After Google Home has finished wishing me a nice day, I often follow-up with, “Hey Google – Play Radio New Zealand” The device will then play Radio New Zealand National without static or interference and with a greater level of bass than can be achieved on our little transistor radio.

Later in the evening when preparing tea, it might be: “Hey Google – Play songs by the Andrew London Trio” (Google responds by playing these songs from Google Play, YouTube, or Spotify etc… depending on the services that you have access to.

For me, these are the most used features, but there are countless others….

“Hey Google – Whats the time now in Mexico City?”

“Hey Google – Play the latest BBC Comedy of the week podcast”

or “Hey Google – Play the latest BBC Comedy of the week podcast on the lounge speakers”  and google will kindly redirect the podcast to our better speakers in the lounge. Google can even send different things to diffeent speakes around the house.

“Hey Google – Cast the This Week in Tech podcast by Leo LaPorte to the TV” (This results in the TV switching on and showing me the video podcast that I have requested – This requires a chromecast device.)

Jason Hiner, Leo Laporte, Florence Ion, and Alex Wilhelm

“Hey Google – Tell me a joke!” (The response will be a great ‘dad’ joke)

“Hey Google – How do I say ‘excuse me’ in Spanish?

“Hey Google – What is the tallest building in the world”

Ok – I hope you get the idea. The Google Home is known as a Smart Assistant. It is currently officially supported in Australia, but not in New Zealand.  In addition top the features above, it can also be used to interact with smart devices in your home. For example, if you buy wifi LED light bulbs you can then turn your lights on or off with your voice.. or adjust their hue or brightness … or whatever smart features they may have.

There are definite limitations on the device in New Zealand… You can’t make free calls to your mates with Google Home devices, the news services on offer don’t include New Zealand ones, and many New Zealand smart devices may not be supported – even if the same device would work in the US.

There are many more possibilities that I haven’t really had the time to take a look at yet, and new features are being added all the time. I hope that it won’t be long until Google provides official customisation for New Zealand.

In spite of the limitations, my Google Home device is here to stay. It is much more than a gimmick. It is a truly useful hands-free device. I’m sure that is will be especially be well-loved by busy parents who are hands-on with babies, or anyone who still has to prepare their meals, or wash their dishes by hand.

“Hey Google… whats 450 degrees Fahrenheit in degrees Celsius?”

“Hey Google… Play me some “Happy kitchen music”

“Hey Google… Play a lullaby”

“Hey Google… Have I finished this blog post yet?”      Google: “I’m sorry I don’t understand.”

My Star Rating? 5/5 Sell some old books and use the proceeds to buy one!

Comments: You will need a broadband service and home wifi to use it. A smartphone app is used to configure it (ios or android). A Google Chromecast device is needed to link it to your TV.