Make Zoom calls and other hidden Google Home talents we discovered

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Google Home continues to add new features every few weeks.


Dale Smith/CNET

Most Google Home features are pretty obvious. Tell your smart speaker to play music and it will (as long as you follow these steps for the best music setup first). Ask about the weather and you’ll get the forecast (explore your Google Home weather options here). But some Google Home tricks, despite being pretty awesome, are tucked away out of sight.

The last few weeks have seen a blizzard of Google Home feature updates: new home and away settings, a ton of different ways to trigger routines, Google Home finally getting friendly with Apple Music. There are a few more updates, too, that’ve flown under the radar — like the recently added ability to make Zoom calls.

Here’s a look at three things you might not have known Google Home could do, either because they’re brand-new features or they’re buried so deep you’d be lucky to find them.

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For now, you’ll need a Nest Hub Max to make and take Zoom calls on Google Home, but hopefully the feature will expand to more devices soon.


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Outsource your Zoom calls to Google Home

The case for keeping a Google Home smart device on your work desk just got a lot more compelling after Google Home added the ability to make Zoom calls earlier this month. The upside? You’re not using up screen real estate on your primary computer. The downside? Right now you can only make and take Zoom calls on the Nest Hub Max ($230 at Best Buy), the only Google Home device with a camera.

Since you don’t need a camera to participate in an audio-only Zoom call (in fact, you can even dial in with your phone), hopefully this feature will expand to other devices soon. In the meantime, here’s how to set it up in the app whether you have a Nest Hub Max or not:

1. Open the Google Home app, tap your personal icon in the upper right corner, then tap Assistant settings.

2. Scroll down and tap Voice & video calls, then tap Video & Voice apps.

3. At the top of the screen you should see an option for Zoom, which says Create or link account and has a chain-link icon to the right. Tap the link icon then tap Yes, link account.

4. The Zoom login screen will open up. Either enter your username and password or choose Sign in with SSO (if you use a single sign-on service like Okta), Sign in with Google or Sign in with Facebook, depending on which you use for Zoom calls.

5. On the next screen, decide whether to Accept or Opt out of Zoom sharing your information with third parties (hint: choose Opt out), then tap Authorize when asked whether or not to allow Google Assistant to access your Zoom account information.

The Google Home app should now show that your Zoom account is linked. From there, you can say things (starting with “Hey, Google,” or “OK, Google”) such as, “join my next meeting” or “join a meeting” and, to close out, “exit Zoom.”

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A Google Home or Nest device makes a great addition to your home office, especially with the new Workday routine.


Dale Smith/CNET

Use the daylong Workday routine to simulate the office

Speaking of scenarios for using a smart speaker at work, back in the fall Google Home added a feature called Workday. It’s in the part of the app where you can craft custom commands called “routines” (here’s a primer on how to do just that). Workday is sort of the mother of all routines. It’s a big routine made up of a series of smaller routines to help remind you to keep up with your calendar, take breaks and so on throughout the day.

Google gets you off the ground with a preset Workday routine (thank heavens — both creating and using routines can get tedious unless you do it right). All you need to do is program the things you normally do at various times throughout the workday, like check your calendar at the beginning of your work shift, as well as the things you maybe aren’t so great at remembering, like standing up or drinking water. Plus, you can prompt yourself to begin your wind-down routine ahead of your workday’s end, so you don’t wind up putting in extra time after business hours. 

Here’s how to get started crafting your perfect workday with Google Home:

1. Open Google Home app, tap the Routines icon, then tap Workday.

2. Toggle Enable Routine to the on position then choose which smart speaker is closest to your workspace.

3. Pick which days of the week you work (it defaults to Monday through Friday) and decide if you want to get a notification on your phone whenever your workday routine starts.

4. If the default times don’t align with your schedule, tap the arrow to the right of the time to change it. From there, go through and remove the tasks you don’t need (for example, if you work at a standing desk you don’t need to set a “time to stand” reminder) and add tasks you want that aren’t prefilled (say, playing a playlist, radio station or music channel).

When you’re finished building your workday routine, tap Save, then just work like you normally do and let Google Home handle the rest.

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Use Google Home’s new Family Bell feature to schedule family events throughout the day, like meal times.


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Saved by the Google Home Family Bell

Similar to Workday, but geared toward the whole family, Family Bell could help bring order to the chaos that can ensue when adults and kids are stuck in a house together for days, weeks or even months on end (like, well, most of 2020). Instead of the schedule being filled in for you already, however, there are a whopping 17 different preset templates for activities (like arts and crafts time) or transitions (like bedtime).

The presets are a lot more fun than the Workday defaults, too — especially the announcements, such as, “Crunch, crunch, it’s time for lunch” and, “Calling all secret agents. Your mission is to complete the chores.”

Here’s how to set up Family Bell:

1. Open Google Home app, tap your personal icon in the upper right corner, then tap Family Bell.

2. To add a preset activity, tap + Add in the box with the activity you want to schedule and add in all the required details.

3. To create your own bell, tap + Add a bell at the top of the screen, come up with your own quirky announcement, choose a time, select the days of the week you want it to happen and the speaker you want to announce it. Finally, toggle Enable to the on position and tap Create new bell to finish.

Some of the other recently added Google Home features are real game-changers, too, such as scheduling tasks to happen later, the new centralized media controls and all sorts of new ways to fire off routines.

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