October 21, 2020
Sorry, Apple. Google Home got this bullhorn feature first

Sorry, Apple. Google Home got this bullhorn feature first


Nest Audio

The new Nest Audio gives you an excuse to expand your Google Home collection so you can Broadcast to every corner in your house.


Juan Garzon/CNET

Apple fans may have oohed and ahhed when the iPhone maker introduced the HomePod Mini this week with a feature that will broadcast a message to other Apple speakers, tablets and iPhones. But Google Home and Nest speakers can already do most of that, using a feature called Broadcast. If you have more than one Google smart speaker, live with at least one other person and haven’t used Broadcast yet, I think you’re going to love it.

Basically, you record a message and Google Home plays it across all your speakers, which saves you from having to shout across your home or get up when you’re comfortable. You can even target one specific speaker instead of the entire home, and if anyone wants to respond without leaving their seat, their message goes only to you — not back across the whole house.

The more Google Home or Google Nest smart speakers you own, the better Broadcast works, and with the new Google Nest Audio speaker now available, you couldn’t have a better excuse to expand your collection (although we might suggest waiting for a Black Friday deal). However, even if you only have one Google Home or Nest smart speaker and it’s far from where you are at the moment (e.g. you’re in the garage and it’s in the living room), you can still beam a message to it using your smartphone.

The next time you’re ready to announce that dinner’s on the table, it’s time to leave or whatever other information you want to relay to the other people in your home, here’s how to use Google Home’s Broadcast feature to get the message across.

warriors-google-home-mini

If a Google Home smart speaker is set to Do Not Disturb, like, for example, during homework time, it won’t play a Broadcast message.


Google

Broadcast a message to the whole house

Broadcast only works if the same Google account is signed in to all the Google Home speakers and Nest Hub displays in the house (it should be — if not, why aren’t you using Voice Match instead?) Also, if any devices are set to Do Not Disturb or Downtime, such as in kids’ rooms while they’re doing homework, they won’t relay the message.

Here’s how to do it:

Start with “Hey, Google” or “OK, Google,” then say, “Broadcast,” then speak the message you want to go out (“Time for dinner!”) You can replace “Broadcast” with “Announce,” “Tell everyone” or, if you’re feeling frisky, “Shout” (unfortunately, however, it won’t play any louder than normal).

Some examples:

  • Hey, Google, broadcast, “Pizza time!”
  • OK, Google, tell everyone, “Nana and Pops are here!”
  • Hey, Google, announce, “Time to do homework!”
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You can use Broadcast from a Nest Hub in the kitchen to let everyone know dinner is ready.


Angela Lang/CNET

You can specify a room to prevent eavesdropping

Broadcast is great if you want everyone in the house to hear your message or you don’t care if a message for one person is overheard by all. But if you want to limit your audience and you know which room the intended recipient is in, you can say where exactly you want the message to go.

Just add the name of the speaker or the room that it’s in (details you should’ve chosen when setting it up in the Google Home app) when you speak the “Broadcast” command and Google Assistant will route the memo where you want it to go.

For example, these commands are designed to only play on one specific speaker:

  • OK, Google, shout to the kitchen, “Is dinner ready yet?”
  • Hey, Google, broadcast to the living room, “Is the scary part of the movie over?”
  • OK, Google, announce to the bedroom, “Are you going to sleep all day, sweet pea?”
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Send a message to the far reaches of your home — anywhere you’ve put a Google Home or Nest smart speaker.


Angela Lang/CNET

Here’s how to reply to a Broadcast message

Broadcast isn’t a one-way street. Anyone who receives a message can reply from whichever speaker they hear it from. And unlike the original memo, replies only go back to the speaker that started the exchange, without having to specify which one that may be.

Even if you have Continued Conversations enabled (so your microphone reopens after each Google Home response to listen for follow-up questions), you still have to say, “Hey” or ,”OK, Google, reply” or, “Send a reply” to respond to a Broadcast message. Here are some examples:

  • Hey, Google, reply, “I’ll be down in a minute.”
  • OK, Google, send a reply: “Did you get pineapple on the pizza?”
  • Hey, Google, reply, “Five more minutes!”
Google Home Max

Even the big Google Home Max will Broadcast a message.


James Martin/CNET

Google Assistant might switch it up a little

Occasionally, Google Assistant might replace what you say with music, sound effects and its own phrasing. “OK, Google, tell everyone bedtime” could become, in Google Assistant’s voice, “It’s time for bed. Sleep well,” complete with music box music. “Hey, Google, broadcast ‘Time to wake up'” might trigger a rooster crowing and, “Morning! Time to rise and shine!”

Depending on which Google Home speaker or display you have and exactly how you phrase the message, you might get similar results, but it seems the more you personalize the memo (“taco time” versus “time for dinner,”) the less likely it is to change.

Google Home is full of amazing tricks, like these five surprising things a Google Home can do, this secret superpower and this Google Home feature hiding in plain sight.


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