Google Assistant helps out with daily routine
It all started when the kitchen timer stopped working. As a smartphone user since 2005, I'm a strong believer that my Blackberry can do the job as well. And so it did for a few weeks. But here is the problem, I like my meat marinated - not so my phone.
The solution presented itself, I saw the Google Home Mini for $40 on sale. This was back in 2017 and my math was simple: "A new kitchen timer is at least $20 and can tell no jokes".
After about 20 minutes of exploring the features and having fun with our new addition to the family, it was sitting there on it's own chair, mostly neglected and listening to the "Hey Google" wake-up call. I use it as a timer for the BBQ and the occasional "What's the Weather Tomorrow".
New Years Eve 2017 came and I introduced 'The Google' to 'The People' (aka our friends). The little box got a good work-out and many laughter's. Then back to neglect and live goes on.
Every workday we get up at 5:30am. The morning routine includes weather, road conditions and basic news from the radio. I was streaming 680 News from the phone to the Bluetooth speakers. It is a clumsy undertaking, considering the time of day multiplied by the me-factor. Every day the same struggle and live goes on. Until ...
It is Black Friday 2018 and we do some shopping. I noticed a big Sale sign in the store,
Google Home Mini for $35. I could not resist.
Rushing home, unpack 'The Google', plug in 'The Google', configure 'The Google' and install 'The Google' upstairs. We have now two Google Mini, one Chromecast and one Audiocast device installed. I customised them all from Google Home and Assistant on the tablet and computer. That included things like give the devices a name and make sure that they understand German. Yes, this is new. Google will listen to two languages, English and German. The answer will come back in the correct language, this is really cool.
The Google Assistant has ready-made Routine that can be customised. One of them is "Hey Google - Good Morning". I programmed to read the current weather and then switch to 680News Radio. The ready-made Routine can be enhance with custom Routine. How about a "Hey Google - I'm bored".
I don't plan to fully automate our home. Hey I watched Terminator and saw what Skynet can do to humanity. There is also a hefty price tag attached to these gadgets. Although it is intriguing to get a Smart Coffee Maker and add this to the 'Good Morning' Routine.
I mentioned that we have an Audiocast device. Well, there is this circa 1980 stereo system downstairs and some good quality speakers upstairs. The Audiocast device will feed any Internet source into the stereo system. Now this is the ultimate in spending several thousand dollars on a high end stereo equipment to play crappy music from the Internet. In my defence, the stereo system includes a record player for my vinyl collection. And that is audio delight.
If I had a need to install another Google Home Mini, I would not hesitate to get another unit. Not that far fetched, Google Home can act as an intercom and I wouldn't want to miss "Lunch is ready" out in the Garage.
I don't stream music from the Internet and I don't listen to MP4 butchered music. With the Cast devices, I can get video and sound to the TV and stereo system. I can even stream lossless audio, but that's a story for another time.
This here is not the place to list all of the commands. You find them from a better source. CNET keeps an up-to-date list of Google Home commands, Just type "CNET Google Home commands".
BTW, "Hey Google" does math. If you want to know the result of a calculation, just ask (hint: homework).
Now the privacy issue. Google Home connects to your Google Account. You can check your calendar and reference the stored contacts. I didn't setup Google Home with voice match and anybody can send a commanded.
I do not store private information there. My Google Mail account is used when signing up for newsletters from vendors and other generic information. The calendar entries are public events like skating at 'Arrowhead Provincial Park - Fire and Ice'. My storage in the Google cloud is practically zero. I keep some pictures and maps there which are referenced in my blog. The picture collections are used for slideshow on the TV. That is where the Chromecast device works very well. This is all information carefully selected for the public domain.
And so it sits there, mostly neglected and waiting for the wake-up call. This will be tomorrow morning.