Google Assistant can turn off your lights, adjust your thermostat, show you the weather, lock the door and more with a simple voice command. The voice-enabled digital helper from the eponymous search giant launched alongside the original Google Home smart speaker in 2016. Back then, it only worked with four smart home brands. Now, it of them.
Thanks to all of those options, building a smart home around Google Assistant makes sense. Devices like a smart speaker or a smart display will help you tangle with fewer apps and give your family a control point without needing to access your phone.
Picking between Google Assistant and Amazon’s assistant comes down to splitting hairs and personal preference. If you’d prefer an Alexa-centered smart home, check back tomorrow for that list. Apple’s HomeKit platform isn’t as robust as far as number of devices, but if you love your iPhone and the built-in assistant Siri, check out our favorite HomeKit gadgets.
If you’re ready to jump in with a Google-powered smart home, here are our favorite devices from a variety of categories. Get started with a smart display or smart speaker, then branch out with our picks for compatible lights, locks, thermostats and more as you desire.
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The Google Nest Hub (formerly the Home Hub) is a great way to kick off a Google-centric smart home. It uses Google Assistant to respond to all of the same voice commands as a Google Home smart speaker. The touchscreen will show you extra info when you ask about the weather, search for restaurants and more. Plus, you can use it to watch videos or scroll through family pictures.
In fact, a unique adaptive brightness sensor makes the Nest Hub a great digital photo frame, as it adapts to both light levels and color temperature so it always looks like a physical photo in a frame. You can set a scrolling slideshow of family pics as your screensaver.
The Nest Hub is also a great kitchen helper, as it can walk you through recipes step-by-step and you can multitask while you cook. Set a timer, play music, add an ingredient to your shopping list and more — the Nest Hub will even keep your place in the recipe when you need to check it next.
All of these features make the Nest Hub useful in a lot of ways, but a simple control panel makes it the best choice for your central smart home device. Swipe down from the top for shortcuts letting you turn off the lights or check on your security cameras. You can then tap to see a room-by-room overview of all of your devices. The control panel is well organized and helpful, particularly if you have family members that struggle to remember what voice commands work. Now, they can just tap.
The Nest Hub is our favorite smart display overall, and regularly on sale for even less than its reasonable $130 price. It’s useful even if you don’t have a lot of smart home gadgets, but it’s indispensable if you want a smart home that works with Google Assistant.
If having an extra screen in your house would annoy you, the Google Home Mini makes another good smart home starting point. Google’s small smart speaker offers all of the same Google Assistant-enabled voice commands as the rest. Control compatible gadgets, search the web, play music and more just by asking.
The Mini is also cute and comes in a variety of colors. At $50, it’s the least expensive way to kick off your smart home without any sacrifices in voice capabilities. The Mini also makes for a good secondary device. If you put a Google Nest Hub in your kitchen, you can put a Mini in a different room, and both will be able to control any compatible smart devices you set up. Even if they both hear you, only the closest one will respond.
Once you set up control points with a smart display or a smart speaker, it’s time to figure out what smart devices you want. A smart lightbulb is a good first step, and the C by GE bulbs work particularly well with Google.
These affordable Bluetooth bulbs can use a Google Home device (both the Home Mini and the Nest Hub will work) as a bridge. You can set up the bulbs from the Google Home app then control them from anywhere as long as the bulb is close to your Google gadget. Even better, because the bulb is communicating directly with your Google device, the response time is incredibly quick.
Changing the temperature of your thermostat with a voice command is a cool trick that never really gets old. Lots of smart thermostats work with Google Assistant. Check out our smart thermostat best list for options. Since Google owns Nest, the third-generation Nest Learning Thermostat is the obvious choice here, but I’ll give the nod to the Ecobee3 Lite.
Ecobee’s budget model offers most of the same smarts as more expensive competition, including the $250 Nest model. It responds to all of the same voice commands and the intuitive controls make manual scheduling easy.
Smart plugs are a great way to efficiently add connectivity to dumb devices. Plug in a lamp or fan, and you’ll be able to control it with an app. The TP-Link Kasa Plug offers app controls and Google Assistant compatibility. Plus, it’s an attractive design and doesn’t block adjacent outlets.
It won’t monitor energy, but it lets you control an old-fashioned floor fan with your voice for a reasonable price.
The obvious choice from Nest makes the most sense here. The $300 Nest Cam IQ Indoor is a great security camera in its own right. You can check out a live stream remotely and get motion alerts and person alerts for free. Sign up for Nest’s premium “Nest Aware” service and you can get alerts based on who the camera sees thanks to its built-in facial recognition.
Even better, the Nest Cam has a built-in microphone so you can use it to talk directly to Google Assistant, making it a great choice both to secure your home and expand your connectivity with Google.
SimpliSafe’s wide variety of accessories rival professional options from companies like ADT. The starter kit is a reasonable $230. Unfortunately, you have to pay for remote app access, but $25 a month nets you that and professional monitoring.
With the $25 monthly subscription, you also can control your system with Google Assistant, and Simplisafe’s devices will respond quickly to your voice commands.
Again, Nest has an option here that poses a viable alternative. The Nest Guard has a loftier up-front cost, but you can do much more without a subscription. Thanks to all of the reliable accessories, SimpliSafe edges out Nest Guard especially if you want monitoring.
Speaking of locking down your home, the easy-to-install August Pro fits over your existing deadbolt. The Connect module lets you control it remotely and with your voice, so you can tell Google Assistant to lock your door.
The August Pro has lots of features, including an open-close sensor so you can check to make sure you pulled the door shut on your way out. August is responsive and reliable as well, making the Pro a good choice if you want to put Google Assistant in charge of your entryway.
Wrapping this up with another one from Nest, but to be fair, the Nest Hello is our favorite video doorbell overall, so it’s definitely the best one for a Google-centric smart home. The Nest Hello has great video quality when you want to check on the feed from your porch. You’ll get an alert when someone rings the bell.
Even better, if you have the Nest Hub, you can talk to the person at the door with your smart display. The Nest Hello even offers facial recognition for a premium subscription. It ties together well with other Google products, and it’s the smartest and most capable video doorbell out there.