Searching, streaming, shopping: the big G’s digital helper can do a lot more than switch smart stuff on and off. Paired with the best Google Assistant devices, it can automate your lighting, cue your favourite shows and keep a watchful eye on your abode.
Google Assistant now works with more devices than ever. From light bulbs to soundbars, the helper inhabits many homes. And because it draws on the search giant’s ever-growing pool of user data, it gets cleverer by the day.
Keen to improve the powers of your pad? Whether you’re taking your first steps towards a smart home or looking to expand your existing catalogue of kit, the list below features our pick of the top tech that works with Google Home. OK Google, show us the list.
Best Google Assistant devices: smart speakers and displays
Google Nest Mini (2nd Gen)
Want all the skills of Google Assistant in a small fabric blob? Mount a Nest Mini on your wall and you’re away. With a textured cover that’s crafted from recycled plastic bottles, the smallest Nest speaker is an understated way to add intelligence to your den.
Sure, it doesn’t pack the sonic punch of its bigger siblings (see below), but the audio is perfect for podcasts, recipe instructions or weather updates. Far-field voice recognition means you shouldn’t have to shout to get Google to do your bidding, while Voice Match smarts ensure you receive results relevant to you.
Hook up your accounts via the Google Home app for Spotify streaming and Netflix TV control (if you’ve got a Chromecast in the back of your box), plus smart home integration is super straightforward. At this price, the Nest Mini makes it affordable to fork out for a houseful of smart speakers.
Google Nest Audio
Gone is the iconic coffee-cup design of the Google Home. Instead, the revamped Nest Audio ships with a neat fabric wraparound that effortlessly blends with your decor. Minimalism is the order of the day, with just one physical button and four LEDs to tell you what’s what.
Also refreshed is the audio quality. Replacing the single 50mm driver found in the original Home speaker are a 75mm woofer and a 19mm tweeter. While the Nest Audio doesn’t deliver anything like as much detail or sparkle as a Sonos One, there’s plenty of full-bodied punch – ideal for everyday listening. And if you want more dynamism, you can always pair it with a second Nest Audio for a stereo setup.
As for smarts, the Nest Audio ships with the same machine-learning engine as the Nest Mini, which means quicker local processing of common commands. Three near-field mics do a solid job of detecting requests – whether that’s turning off the lights or battling the trivia ‘bot. For under a ton, the Nest audio is a superb little package.
Google Nest Hub Max
Take a fabric-wrapped stand. Add a 75mm bass woofer and two 18mm tweeters. Top it off with a 10in smart screen. What you’ve got is the Google Nest Hub Max.
True to its moniker, the Max is a proper hub for your smart home. You can cue up recipes and quantity conversions in the kitchen, check on your schedule and the weather, watch Netflix or YouTube in HD, or view live feeds from Nest cameras around your house. There’s also a dedicated control panel for commanding all of your connected tech. And thanks to Google Assistant, you do everything with the power of your voice.
Smarter still is the little lens that lives above the screen. The camera can identify the faces of up to six people, so only you get to see your messages. It detects motion, too, meaning it can keep an eye out for twilight biscuit burglars.
Don’t want to be watched? Downsize with the second-gen Nest Hub. Smaller at 7in, it ditches the camera and ships with just a single speaker, but still serves as a very capable control centre.
Best Google Assistant devices for your TV
Chromecast with Google TV
Google’s Chromecast has gone from passive receiver to proper streamer. You can still ‘cast’ video from thousands of compatible apps, but the latest version also allows you to select shows directly from Google TV’s home screen – transforming any set with a spare HDMI slot into a smart TV.
The hub brings together content from your favourite subscription services on a single page, including personalised recommendations. And with more than 6500 apps supported by Chromecast, you’ll rarely come up short for stuff to watch. The bundled remote also makes interaction easier than ever, with dedicated buttons for YouTube and Netflix, plus a Google Assistant shortcut which puts voice control just a press away.
Streaming quality is slick, with no buffering and impressively sharp 4K HDR at up to 60fps. Despite its plug-and-play simplicity, support for Dolby Atmos, as well as Dolby Vision and HDR10+, means the Chromecast has the skills to smarten up your cinema room.
Totally tubular TV
Bring gaming to your box with Nvidia’s Shield TV. An aluminium cylinder with a Toblerone remote, it lets you stream games from your PC to your TV – or play Android titles on the stick itself. AI upscaling also enhances the detail in 1080p scenes.
Shopping for a fresh set? Several top tellies now ship with Google’s updated TV interface built-in – including this 55in OLED number from Philips. A premium box with features to match, it’s got you covered for cutting-edge picture quality, cinematic sound and console gaming.
Hit the dedicated Google Assistant button and you can control connected smart home kit by talking to the remote. Use the same trick to request your favourite shows and you’ll be rewarded with outstanding motion, detail, contrast and colours. An arsenal of processing algorithms work to serve up the most realistic, vibrant pictures possible.
Where it really wins is with the integrated Bowers & Wilkins soundbar, complete with up-firing speakers for Dolby Atmos magic. With support for every major HDR standard, plus immersive Ambilight backlighting, it’s pretty much all the TV you need – and a stunning way to put Google front and centre in your living room.
Harman Kardon Multibeam 700
Smart speakers might be fine for kitchen tunes, but it takes something bigger to deliver cinematic audio. Enter Harman Kardon’s connected soundbar: wrapped in Kvadrat wool, the sophisticated and surprisingly compact MultiBeam 700 is designed to transform your TV room’s acoustics.
Each end of the slab harbours a 25mm horn-loaded tweeter. These work together with five 50mm front-facing woofers to fire out audio at different angles. The idea is to bounce waves off your walls to mimic a true surround sound setup. And it works: the MultiBeam wields enough power to fill all but the most cavernous living rooms, with plenty of dynamism, good separation and bass that’s well controlled (if a little beefy).
Hook the Harman Kardon up to your Google Home setup via Wi-Fi, before asking the integrated Google Assistant for movie recommendations. Built-in Chromecast means you can stream songs straight from more than 300 services, too. Hey Google, play Guardians of the Galaxy: Awesome Mix Vol. 1.
Best indoor Google Home devices: other gadgets
LIFX has a whole line-up of connected lights, from basic bulbs to smart strips. Its simple screw-ins are fairly affordable, but the real boon is hub-free connectivity: just plug in, turn on and pair up directly via Wi-Fi. Google Home support means you can easily add an array of glowers to your existing setup, before configuring shades and schedules – or asking Google Assistant to do the dimming.
Germs keeping you up at night? The LIFX Clean bulb can blast your room with high energy visible light, neutralising 90% of E.Coli and other microscopic nasties that might be lurking on your surfaces. Cleaning cycles can be scheduled through the app, plus it’s safe for people and pets. And when its not on disinfection duty, the Clean offers 550 billion colour options.
Hue are you?
The Hoover of home illumination, Philips’ Hue system is synonymous with smart lighting. Extras are expensive and you need a Hue Bridge to hook everything up, but regular additions to the ecosystem keep it fresh – plus it integrates with everything. Kick off with the Starter Kit here if you’re keen.
Nest Learning Thermostat
Combining minimalist styling and AI smarts, the Nest Learning Thermostat has long set the bar for smart heating. Shipped in several finishes, the subtle puck cuts a dash with its streamlined design and vibrant display.
Installation requires professional help, but once it’s buddied up with your boiler, handling the heat couldn’t be easier. Twist the control ring on the Thermostat itself for instant adjustments, confirmed by the clear readout. Need to tweak the temperature from afar? Dive into the Nest app for remote control via Wi-Fi.
Use it for a week and the ‘Learning’ part will come into play: the Nest automatically assesses your heating needs, then programs itself to suit. You can tweak the schedule manually as required, while Energy History and Home Reports highlight how you could use less. Or for instant feedback, just look for the little green leaf which appears when you’re being an eco warrior.
E is for easier
Keen to skip the costly installation? You can hook up the cheaper Nest Thermostat E yourself. Some features are missing, but it still lets you tweak temperatures from your phone, as well as automatically adjusting if someone’s in. Buy it here from Amazon
Netflix always buffering in the upstairs snug? Mesh network nodes improve signal coverage by draping a broadband blanket over your property, helping Wi-Fi to find the far reaches of every room. And they don’t come much easier to use than Google’s Nest Wifi.
Setup is a cinch: connect the router to your modem, then plug in as many additional points as you need. Google reckons one point can handle 200 connected devices and is speedy enough to support multiple 4K streams simultaneously. Each extender is good for 120m2 and also serves as a smart speaker, so you’ll also get Google Assistant around the house.
Fire up the Google Home app for parental controls, speed tests, guest networks and even the option to prioritise certain devices – so you can make sure your Twitch stream takes precedence.
Ping from the past
Before Nest Wifi, there was Google Wifi. Confusingly, the two now co-exist. A much more affordable way to mesh network, it’s not as fast as Nest and the nodes don’t double up as smart speakers – but it still delivers maximum speeds of 464.4 Mbps, for solid house-wide Wi-Fi. Buy it here from Google
The best Google Assistant devices for security
As Douglas Reynholm once opined, “there’s somebody at the door.” And with the Nest Doorbell, you’ll be able to see who it is without leaving the sofa.
More than just a Wi-Fi lens, Google’s digital bouncer knows neighbours from ne’er-do-wells. Set to detect motion 24/7, it can tell the difference between people, pets and passing cars – and send the appropriate alert to your phone. A vertical field of view means it can pick up packages on the porch, too.
Check in live via the app or stump up for a Nest Aware subscription (from £5 per month) to review event-based footage for up to 60 days after the fact. And because it’s battery powered, you can mount it next to almost any portal. Pair the Doorbell with a Nest Mini for wireless chimes, with seasonal options to make your ding dong merrily on high. There’s also a wired option, if you want the reassurance of constant current.
From misbehaving hounds to unexpected callers, there are many reasons why you might want to keep an eye on your abode. Google’s battery-powered Nest Cam makes it easy to check in any time, anywhere.
Fit for inside and out, attach the weatherproof Wi-Fi Cam to its magnetic base for smart surveillance wherever you need it. Check in when you like via the app or a Nest Hub Max, or configure intelligent alerts for instant updates. Besides clever recognition of humans, animals and vehicles, you can also highlight specific areas for the Cam to focus on.
Night vision means you’ll always know what’s what, while two-way talk lets you tell visiting couriers to drop your boxes behind the bird bath. Pony up for Nest Aware (from £5 a month) and you can review up to 10 days of 24/7 footage – and a further 50 of event-based recordings. So you’ll finally know if it’s Fido who’s feasting on your freshly baked snacks.
Some people are worried about Google watching them at home. Which is fair enough. But if there’s one scenario where you’ll be grateful for Google’s domestic oversight, it’s a house fire.
A smarter smoke alarm, the second-gen Nest Protect knows when to panic – and when it’s just burnt breakfast. A Split-Spectrum Sensor uses two wavelengths of light to detect particles from different kinds of fire, while a humidity sensor (together with clever algorithms) can tell your rooibos infusion from a raging inferno. If it does detect something worrying, the Nest Protect will announce its concerns out loud and send an alert to your smartphone.
Bored of flat-battery beeps disturbing your sleep? Nest Protect tests itself regularly, giving you advanced notice if it’s running low. And if you do happen to wake in the night, it’ll detect your motion and illuminate your way to the fridge using its brighter light ring.