The Google Home speaker is an attractive and affordable home for the Google Assistant to live. Like the Echo speakers from Amazon, all you have to do is say the word and the Assistant will control elements of your home automation, play music or provide information straight from the font of wisdom known as the internet.
Although the Google Assistant has a lot of functionality even Google can’t think of everything. Besides, the Google Assistant doesn’t really give you much in the way of customization. It’s not like you can reprogram it to do things Google didn’t think of.
That’s where a service known as IFTTT comes in. With IFTTT you can craft a wide range of flexible functions that will work with Google Home (and many other services), but before we get into how IFTTT works, let’s quickly go over what it is.
If This, Then That
Yes, that’s what “IFTTT” is an acronym for. If you’ve ever done any programming you’ll recognize that as a basic conditional statement. All that means is the system will do one thing if another thing becomes true.
It’s a platform that connects all sorts of separate services so that they work together, which is why IFTTT has so many great applets for home automation.
For example, you could make a statement such as “If I post a photo to Instagram, then also post it to Twitter”. Obviously, you can substitute the specific services that you want to interact with one another, but all IFTTT “recipes” work this way.
So What Can I Do?
There’s not enough room here to provide a comprehensive list of recipes that will turn your Google Home into a real powerhouse device but to illustrate how useful IFTTT can be to Home users.
- One of my favorites is “OK Google, find my phone” which uses IFTTT to initiate a call to your phone when you have misplaced it. Simple, yet amazingly useful.
- Alexa can do this out of the box, but with IFTTT you can switch off your TV using your voice and Google Home.
- How about posting to Facebook or Twitter with your voice?
- You can also use IFTTT to operate your Nest or Ecobee thermostat with Google Home
- Different light profiles such as “bedtime” can be created with IFTTT. So you can instantly switch on that romantic mood with just a word.
- Have a robot vac? That will work too!
There are way more, but this taste demonstrated just how powerful IFTTT can be. Excited? OK, let’s get down to the business of actually setting up some recipes with IFTTT and your Google Home.
The whole process starts at IFTTT itself. You need to either visit the IFTTT website or download the IFTTT app on your mobile device. Once you’ve done that, follow the instructions to create a new IFTTT account and then log into the service.
Finding Your Recipes
We won’t start off with the creation of a custom. I recommend always first searching for recipes that others have created. After all, why reinvent the wheel? To find recipes that have been made for the Google Assistant, click the search bar and type in “Google Assistant”.
In the search result, you should see “Google Assistant” listed under “services”. Go ahead and click the icon.
Picking a Recipe
Now you should be on a page listing Google Assistant recipes that already exist. Click on one that interests you and then select “turn on”.
You’ll now be asked to give permission to IFTTT to access each service that a particular recipe requires. This usually means having to log in to each service when prompted and then confirming the permission when asked.
Once you’ve done this your recipe applet should be ready to roll, but depending on its specific nature further tweaking may be needed.
Rolling Your Own Recipe
If you don’t see anything you like under the pre-existing recipes, then you may want to create your own recipe from scratch. The good news is that this is pretty easy and you’ll have a useful new IFTTT function put together in no time. Let’s see how it’s done.
Applets to Applets
Head over to “My Applets”. Here you’ll see all applets that you currently have activated. This is an important page to remember because if you want to switch any applets off in the future you’ll be doing it here.
If you figured out that you now have to click “new applet” in order to make a new applet, congratulations. You get ten points and may continue to the next step.
Pick Your Service
Once you click the new applet button you’ll enter a six-step process. First, you’ll have to pick the service that will trigger the action. In this case, that service is Google Assistant. So in the search bar of step one, just type the name of the service and then select it.
Now you’ll see a list of triggers that will be linked to the action you want. You can use a simple custom phrase or pick a phrase that has a number or text quotation in it.
Now you’ll get to fill in the required details for the trigger to work. In the case of the Google Assistant, you’ll have to specify how the phrase should be. Once you are satisfied with this step, we move on the “that” part of the recipe.
It’s All That
This works basically the same as the first part. Pick the service and now pick from a list of possible actions. Fill in any custom info that’s needed and save.
No, you’ll get to review the IFTTT recipe, so make sure that it says what you want it to. If you’re happy, click “finish” and we’re ready to rock.
A Fair Warning
While IFTTT is an absolutely awesome tool to have in your arsenal, it will never be as good as natively integrated features provided by Google and the various companies that own the target services.
Because you have to bounce your command from Google Home to IFTTT and then to the target service, this is also the chance that significant lag between the command and action may occur. So if ever you do get a more integrated alternative it would be better to switch to it.
IFTTT also requires you to be very explicit, while native commands are more intuitive. For example, if you want to use a TV device that IFTTT supports to switch channels you’ll have to have one rule for each channel.
Recently Google Home received an update that natively integrated it with Android TV devices. So now you can just directly control something like an Android TV Box with Google Home. I’ve reviewed some of these cool little devices, so be sure to check them out.