Jun 23, 2023

Google Home automation just got more powerful

By Nathan Edwards, a senior reviews editor who's been testing tech since 2007. Previously at Wirecutter and MaximumPC. Current fixations: keyboards, DIY tech, and the smart home.

Google Home is getting smarter. In a pair of blog posts published today, Google announced a bunch of new automation starters and actions rolling out in the Home app as well as some really cool features coming to the script editor for those enrolled in Public Preview.

The new starters in the Home app include the ability to trigger routines when devices open or close, in response to temperature or humidity changes or occupancy sensing, if devices are plugged in, start charging, or dock or undock, or if the volume is muted or unmuted.

New actions include opening or closing devices (like shades), pausing or unpausing media, starting / pausing / resuming timers, docking devices, enabling lighting effects, rebooting devices, setting target humidity percentages, etc. You can see the full list of new starters and actions in Google’s blog post.

When you add those to the starters and actions Google Home already supports, you can enable some pretty neat automations, like:

After a long time lagging the competition, Google Home is starting to feel like an actual smart home platform. It’s great to see triggers and actions migrate from the script editor — which is only available in Public Preview and isn’t exactly the most user-friendly experience for non-coders — to the Home app.

Speaking of the script editor: it now supports camera event starters, custom notifications, and starter suppression. Camera events include package detection, familiar face detection, motion, and pet detection. What can you do with that? I’m just gonna quote the blog post directly:

Dog detected: When a dog is detected, you can play calming music to help your dog relax. You can also set up your Chromecast with Google TV to play a dog-friendly TV show.

Now, your dog can turn on the TV. What a world!

More practical for home automation tinkerers is the ability to create custom phone notifications (so you can get a notification when your dog turns on the TV or your robot vacuum finishes vacuuming) and starter suppression (so the TV only turns on the first time your dog walks in front of a camera today).

I’m pretty excited about that last bit. When I first got access to the script editor, I set the lights in my office to turn on when motion was detected in the office. That worked well until the first time I walked into the office in the evening to turn off the lights, only to have them turn right back on when I walked out. Starter suppression is going to be real handy.

Google says the new Home and script editor features are rolling out starting today; I haven’t seen either yet on my account, on Android, iOS, or the web, but rolling out means rolling out.

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Dog detected: