Morning can be the pits. For many of us, it signifies a new day of doldrums: errands that need running, emails that require writing, and perhaps even sitting through a few hours of grueling rush hour traffic. That's why it’s crucial to start off every morning in the right way.
A balanced breakfast is indeed a part of the equation of a morning routine, just as much as interacting with your digital assistant can be. The Google Home ($129), in particular, has become more conversational with its latest update, which makes it a prime candidate for helping you start your day.
Not only does it talk more naturally in a number of fun voices, without you having to utter “Hey Google” all the time, but it can also be programmed to perform a string of actions after you’ve shouted a specific phrase (or muttered it from your pillow).
Whether you like to wake up to music or the news, and whether you commute by train or car, there are a variety of ways to customize the Google Assistant to start your day off right. If you’re the kind of person who thrives on routine, keep reading.
Wake up to the right stuff
A blaring alarm snapping you out of the middle of a REM cycle isn’t the most comforting way to start the day. Rather than that harsh wakeup call, consider programming the Google Home to wake you up gently instead. It’s not only infinitely customizable, but it’s also better at getting you up because you have to talk to it to snooze it.
Set it up manually by asking your Assistant to wake you up at a specific time every day to a particular style of music. For instance, I’ve set my Google Home to “wake me up every weekday at 7:20 a.m. to classical music.” The Assistant now sounds off the same classical strum every morning at my preferred time. You can also use a playlist or an artist you wouldn’t mind hearing first thing in the morning.
Before you can set all this up: You’ll want to ensure your Google Home's defaults are set to the accounts and services you prefer to use. In the Google Home app for iOS and Android, tap on the devices option in the upper left corner, then select the overflow menu and then go to "More Settings." Scroll down to "Music," and make sure that your favorite service is selected. In my case, it’s Spotify, but you can also choose Google Play Music, YouTube Music, or Pandora.
Build your ideal morning routine
Alarms are an obvious option, but that's not all Google Assistant can do for you. The next step in integrating the Google Home into your morning routine is to program it with a string of commands to perform when you utter the magic words. Google recently consolidated its once-separate Shortcuts feature into its Routines feature, and now you can set it all up from the same menu screen.
In the Google Home app, tap on the same overflow menu and then go to "More Settings." Scroll down and select "Routines." Start off by tapping on the ready-made “Good morning” routine. Under “When I say…” you can customize the trigger words to initiate your string of actions. “Good morning” and “Tell me about my day” are offered up by default, but you can add custom phrases by writing them out as you’d say them.
Then, under “My Assistant should…” you can choose your actions. If you have any Google-compatible smart devices already linked to your Google Assistant, you’ll see abilities unlock for things like adjusting scenes for a network of smart bulbs, or setting the temperature on a connected thermostat. There’s also an option to have the Assistant read the weather report, as well as the traffic report and any reminders you might have set beforehand.
To add to the list of actions in your morning routine, you can tap on “Add action” to manually enter a command. This is particularly helpful in instances where the Google Home doesn’t automatically populate a command for a connected device. If you have something like smart blinds or a connected coffee maker, to offer a few examples, this is where you’d program them based on the voice actions you know they would accept.
At the very end, you’ll see an option for what the Assistant should play after it’s done executing your morning routine. Choose your content; whether it’s music, the news, the radio, a podcast, or the rest of the audiobook you're currently listening to, select one and then customize it by tapping on the gear icon next to each option. Tap on "Nothing" if you don't need this action.
If you’d rather have the TV turn on and you have a Chromecast- or Assistant-enabled TV, go back to the previous actions section. You’ll have to add this ability there manually. As an example, if you have a YouTube TV subscription, you could type out something like, “Play Bravo on YouTube TV on the Bedroom TV” to integrate it into your routine.
Once you're finished setting up your routine, be sure to select the check mark in the upper right-hand corner and save your work! Afterward, give the routine a test by shouting out the command to ensure that every action works as you intended. It might take a few passes to get everything just right, but once it's set up, you will be glad you put in the effort.
Wake up the crew
If you’re the one responsible for dragging the tykes (or the adults) out of bed and you have multiple Google Home devices in several bedrooms, like the Google Max ($399) or the Google Mini ($49), try out the broadcast feature. It’s a great way to nudge those who are sleeping in too late without barging into their rooms (especially great if you've got sleepy teens). To use the feature, ask Google to “broadcast a message.” The Assistant will ask you for your message, record you saying it, and then play it throughout the house on every other connected speaker.
If you’re having trouble getting people up on time, here’s where you can get creative and program a custom routine. On the main Routines page, tap on the large blue "plus" icon in the bottom righthand corner to create a new action. Type your phrase under “When I say” and then select what the Assistant should do. You can program a series of custom actions, and there’s even a list of suggested actions you can use for inspiration. When you've finished, save it as you did with the pre-populated Routines, and then test out your command.
Now it's time to leave the house! If you have connected gadgets that need to be configured before you're out the door, this is an excellent time to head into the Routines panel and set up what happens. From here, Google will offer you the ability to adjust any connected devices you have in your home, including bulbs, thermostats, and outlets. If you have other Internet-connected gadgets in the house that could be of use while the family is out—like a robot vacuum or a security system that can be armed through a voice command—you can add an action to perform under the command, just like you did in the "Good morning" routine.
Be sure to save often as you're setting up your Routines, and then run through them to ensure that the Assistant acts accordingly. And if something seems off, you can always go in and edit each routine and command as needed.