SLIDESHOW

10 things Google should add to Google Home right away

Google Home has a good foundation, but it needs more features.

google home fixes main
Google Home feels unfinished, but software updates can fix that

Google Home is supposed to integrate the Google Assistant into your life. It does a lot of neat things out of the gate, but Home also feels very unfinished. It needs more features if it's going to be a useful digital assistant instead of a novelty. Here are 10 things Google ought to add to Home as soon as possible to make it an indispensable part of your life.

google home fixes multiple accounts
Multiple accounts and voices

While Home is positioned as a way to add Assistant to your domicile, it's only fully usable for a single person. You cannot have more than one account tied to Google Home, so all the user-specific data accessible on Home belongs to whoever sets it up. The only option here is to disable "personal results" so other people can't get into things like your calendar.

It should be able to figure out who's who, though. Google is able to recognize voices—you train your phone's OK Google trigger so only you can set it off. Home should have multiple accounts and ID you by voice, returning personal results for the right account. The Home settings currently has a place for "Linked Account(s)" (note the plural), so hopefully this is coming soon.

google home fixes custom hotwords
Custom Hotwords

The "OK Google" hotword has been a part of Google's voice actions for a long time, but Home adds "Hey Google." The idea is it will activate Home and not your phone. That's thoughtful, but it's close enough to OK Google that your phone might wake up anyway. A custom launch phrase fixes that problem. And it might be fun to have a custom hotword like Motorola phones have. It's definitely feasible and would be a quick way to make Home feel more personal. Who doesn't want to pretend to be Scotty from Star Trek 4?

google home fixes reminders
Reminders

This must be an oversight on Google's part—you can't add reminders via Assistant on Google Home. It works fine on a Pixel with Assistant. This is an easy fix, and Google should get on it immediately. Adding reminders is one of the most useful features in Google's voice actions ecosystem. There's no screen for you to look at and verify it has the right information, so Google might need to tweak the flow of commands here.

google home fixes messaging
Sending messages

Google Home is tied to your Google account, but for some reason it exists completely apart from your messages. You can ask your phone to send a message with Assistant, but not Google Home. Maybe we can chalk this one up to the transition to Allo as Google's main consumer messaging solution, but that's no excuse. You should be able to dictate a Hangouts or Allo message or even an email with Home. And while we're at it, this would be a good opportunity to make Allo work independent of your phone.

google home fixes more media netflix
Cast more media

Google Home can communicate with Chromecast and other cast targets on your network, but the content you can beam there is very limited. It's basically just audio and YouTube videos. Google has often partnered with Netflix to demo new casting features, but not this time. Casting YouTube videos is a nice start, but being able to launch a Netflix (or Hulu) video from Home by voice would be more useful. The same goes for your Google Photos. Being able to tell Home to cast all your photos from a recent trip would be really handy.

google home fixes buying
Buying stuff

One of Amazon's big pushes with Alexa is e-commerce, which isn't surprising considering that's Amazon's business. It offers good deals on items that can only be purchased by voice. Google should look into something similar for Home. It even mentions purchases offhandedly in the settings; there's just nothing to it yet.

Google sells a few things in the Google Store that could be made available in Home. Maybe deals on Nest and Hue products that work with Home? Ideally, Google should partner with a retailer to offer more deals when you shop with Home. Remeber Google Express? We haven't heard much about it lately, but it's the most obvious tie-in.

google home fixes calendar
Making new calendar appointments

This is another feature that's mysteriously absent from Google Home. You can't make calendar appointments. It has to be coming, because it just makes so much sense. The pieces are already in place within Assistant. It can see your calendar to tell you about existing events, and the phone version of Assistant can make new appointments. Let's get on this, Google.

google home fixes playlist thumbs up
Playlists and thumbs up

One of the things Google Home is especially good at is playing music, but there's no management aspect for your collection. The experience could be improved if Home knew how to thumbs-up tracks, add them to playlists, and maybe even create new playlists.

google home fixes email
Read recent emails

Something a real assistant might do is read your messages, so why can't Google Home do the same thing? When an email arrives, you should be able to have Home read the text to you. This could help you easily triage your email in the morning before you even pick up your phone.

google home fixes phone stats battery
Phone stats and location

There's a Google Home app that's used to monitor the status of the device, but why not make that a two-way street? Google Home could relay information about the state of your phone. For example, you could ask what your phone's battery level, when it will be done charging, if you have any missed calls, and so on. Or just say "Where's my phone?" to make it beep loudly. If your phone isn't in the area, Google could lock it, display a message on the screen, and let you know where you left it at.