There are a number of Google Home Essentials that we want to uncover and build as we delve into the power of the Google Assistant and its services over time. And that includes the growing library of Assistant apps.
To clarify, these applications and functions are standalone options that can be triggered simply via a “Hey Google” activation phrase. They offer up an array of plugin services beyond the not-so-basic feature-set of any Google Home device.
We’re sure that there are many of you that didn’t even realize that there even were apps for Google Assistant beyond those on the Google Play Store. Well, we’ve collated ten of our favorites that we think that you should give a try.
There should be a little bit of everything, from mindfulness to health, gaming to shopping. By no means is this a comprehensive collection of the growing capabilities of the Google Home, but it’s a great start beyond the core features and integrations that come right out of the box.
You can even add all of these options to a custom routine should you wish to.
I’ve even added a few neat Easter Eggs or extras simply for entertainment purposes <winks>.
I’m not really the kind of person that meditates, but I appreciate that some people like a bit of downtime and the opportunity to relax and switch off from day-to-day pressures — I tend to just play video games.
Normally, the Headspace service is paid so what we get here is a condensed collection, but still a full Headspace experience. You get three different meditation sessions to choose from, all of which only last a couple of minutes each.
Being so short makes these great as a wind-down routine just before bed or when you’ve got a little bit of time to spare. If you are already a Headspace subscriber you can even connect your account. But as a taster session, this might be a good way to get into meditation with the app and Google Home.
- “Hey Google, talk to Headspace”
- “Hey Google, tell Headspace to start my daily meditation”
- “Hey Google, ask Headspace for today’s meditation”
- “Hey Google, tell Headspace I want to wind down”
- “Hey Google, tell Headspace I’m ready to sleep”
- “Hey Google, Ask Headspace to connect my account”
World Air Quality Index
If you are an asthma sufferer or have a respiratory-related illness then heading out, especially if you live in a busy city can exacerbate your symptoms if the air quality is poor.
You can check your local area air quality via the World Air Quality Index via the hourly measurements that the system collects in cities all over the planet. I have recently added the World Air Quality Index to my morning routine so I don’t even need to ask it specifically when I get up first thing — which is awesome.
- “Hey Google, talk to World Air Quality Index”
- “Hey Google, let me talk to World Air Quality Index”
- “Hey Google, World Air Quality Index”
Send Me a Sample
I am hoping that Send Me a Sample does grow over time as the service seems pretty neat from the outset. Basically, you can get free product samples from brands and companies simply by asking your Google Assistant. Think: a free Coca-Cola or something similar and that is the sort of thing that often gets offered via this extension.
It’s worth checking back to see what is currently available to get a taster via this link. Often the samples are only available for a limited time and to be honest I have only had a Coke Zero turn up via the service.
Not something you will use all the time, but definitely a really awesome automated sample system. Sadly, I can’t guarantee that there will be samples available but I have had success in getting one item so I am hoping and praying that more become available.
- “Hey Google, ask Send Me a Sample”
- “Hey Google, talk to Send Me a Sample”
Hey, I know as well as anyone that workouts can sometimes be boring affairs. If you want to get some workout inspiration then something like Fitness Buddy helps your fitness plans from becoming stale and stagnant.
Fitness Buddy won’t give you professional advice or even replace a personal trainer. Instead, it just gives you a short but simple routine for your arms, legs, abs, back or — beyond that — just a little motivation.
- “Hey Google, talk to Fitness Buddy”
- “Hey Google, ask Fitness Buddy for inspiration”
If you haven’t already heard of Tasty from Buzzfeed, then have you ever been on Facebook? The cooking-centric social media stalwarts are responsible for creating many of the viral cooking trends over the past four or five years.
Well, why not enlist the help of the team at Tasty in your own kitchen? Turns out that you can use them to get step-by-step cooking instructions for many of the most popular dishes.
Perfect for those who have a kitchen-placed Smart Display, you can literally choose from every single Tasty recipe that has ever been on the site.
It’s also useful if you go to the grocery store and want a recipe. Simply ask Tasty for the ingredients list and you can pick up everything you need without needing to write down a list!
- “Hey Google, cook with Tasty”
- “Hey Google, talk to Tasty”
- “Hey Google, let’s cook with Tasty”
- “Hey Google, ask Tasty for the next step”
- “Hey Google, ask Tasty for the ingredients”
- “Hey Google, ask Tasty to clean out my fridge”
Mickeys Game Show
There are a wealth of trivia games you can play on your Google Home speaker and this is easily one of the best quality options on the platform. That’s thanks to the excellent voice actors who make this official Disney trivia game arguably one of the best time-killers for families with children.
It’s not the only Disney quiz that you can play with Google Assistant but, like I say, hearing Mickey, Donald, Pluto and friends respond to your answers is simply exceptional.
- “Hey Google, play Mickeys Game Show”
- “Hey Google, talk to Mickeys Game Show”
As a recommendation tool for those that want to find more TV shows and movies to watch or more books to read, itcher is great at matching you with stuff you’ll likely be interested in.
To get started you will need to create an itcher account and plug in a few updates for your current music, movies, TV show, book and video game tastes. Then you simply ask your itcher via Google Home to give you some suggestions. To be honest, most suggestions have been pretty good in my experience.
Naturally, not everything is going to be your cup of tea, but it may unearth some decent content for you to consume if you’re at a loss for ideas. I’ve found that 3 out of 5 recommendations are superb which is a higher hit rate than I anticipated.
- “Hey Google, talk to itcher”
- “Hey Google, tell itcher to recommend me a movie”
- “Hey Google, I want to talk to itcher about books”
- “Hey Google, ask itcher to suggest a TV show”
- “Hey Google, let me talk to itcher about movies”
Perfect for anyone with four-legged friends or almost any type of pet for that matter, Purina Companion allows you to ask all kinds of information about your pet or prospective pet. As you can expect from the company that makes dog and cat food, the Purina Companion is aimed more towards felines and canines.
Getting pet nutrition is just the start, you can even get pet coaching tips like improving dog obedience and even nutritional tips for what is best to feed your prized pooch (or cat).
- “Hey Google, talk to Purina Companion”
- “Hey Google, ask Purina Companion how to teach a dog to…”
- “Hey Google, ask Purina Companion how to…”
News from specific outlets
You can get news quite easily and quickly from your Google Home device but not many people know that this is a wealth of news outlets that you can get daily briefings and updates from — and you can choose them directly.
This does extend into the podcast territory, but instead of a morning briefing, there are several apps from news providers that plugin and give you the option for updates from your own preferred news sources.
For example, one I have used extensively during testing was OZY. It’s a great way to get a global news briefing in one snippet from a reasonably impartial point of view, rather than Google guessing which sites and news brands I want to hear from.
- “Hey Google, play the news from Briefly with OZY”
- “Hey Google, play the news from TIME’s The Brief”
- “Hey Google, listen to news from The Economist Radio”
- For a full list of news and magazine outlets click here.
Perfect for students and kids who can’t keep a handle on their homework and need someone else to remind them when assignments are due.
It’s fairly basic and just keeps a log of times and dates of core events in your education calendar. That said it’s likely a great way for anyone studying to keep better track of their academic diaries.
- “Hey Google, talk to Homework Manager”
Easter Eggs & Extras
You can order Starbucks directly from your Google Home if you didn’t already know. I don’t have a Starbucks close enough nearby (the US to the UK is pretty far) to give try ordering a coffee — flat white for sure — so I thought it wasn’t fair to call this one of the best options when I can’t thoroughly test it out for myself!
If you want to get your caffeine fix, you do need to have a Starbucks Rewards account linked to your Google Assistant and then you can get a hot cup of Joe with a simple voice command.
- “Hey Google, talk to Starbucks”
Michael Saying No
Literally just Michael Scott from the Office saying “No.”
Make of that what you will.
- “Hey Google, talk to Michael Saying No”
The power of Tasker is something that you can tap into if you really want to tinker with your Google Assistant and Android device. Much like IFTTT you can essentially make your Google Home do almost anything within reason. There are ways to do so much more than simply turn off lights or stream content to your TV. The possibilities are almost limitless.
To learn more about AutoVoice simply head here.
Find your own favorites
Because the Google Assistant is constantly improving, growing and developers are adding more integrations, you may want to check back regularly as the app database continues to grow alongside the Assistant’s capabilities.
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