The Best Google Assistant Devices
2018 saw a seismic shift with Google Assistant in terms of the number of devices compatible with Alexa’s main rival for voice control of your smart home.
Rather than laser in on just a couple of devices at length today, we decided instead on an overview of a broad spread of Google Assistant devices by category.
Previously, you were limited to Google’s proprietary smart speakers which we’ll look at first. The evolution of smart speakers into smart displays means we’ve got a quartet of these screened versions to showcase, too.
After that, we’ve got 6 third-party speakers offering a more robust audio experience while still packing Google Assistant.
As if that wasn’t enough, there are also a wide range of smart devices compatible with Google Assistant so if you prefer to control your lights, thermostats, plugs and much, much more with voice commands, you’re in for a real treat.
We’ll jump straight in now so you can see which of these devices might make a neat addition to your connected home in 2019.
Google Smart Speakers
With these trio of Google smart speakers, you can command Assistant directly rather than requiring an intermediary controller.
• Google Home
• Google Home Mini
• Google Home Max
First released back in late 2016, Google Home is still going strong as we enter 2019.
If you still haven’t dipped your toes into the digital assistant waters and you’re not particularly tech-savvy, we’d strongly recommend the original Google Home as it’s a cinch to set up and a wonderful way to get started with voice control.
Perversely, as with many smart speakers, sound quality is sub-par although it will work across multiple rooms. Think about intended usage here. If you’re looking for a primary listening device, you should rethink as you’ll likely end up disappointed. If, however, you’re more interested in taking charge of your other smart devices using voice commands or using Google Assistant’s robust search powers, check out Google Home right now.
Scaled right down in terms of footprint and pricing, Google Home Mini might be almost a whim purchase but functionality will leave you delighted you succumbed to temptation.
The puck-like form means Mini will seamlessly blend into your smart home and the soft fabric finish is a nice change from the metal and plastic of most devices. You’ll get a choice of 3 muted colorways with Assistant on board.
Sound might be somewhat lacking and there’s no output to external speakers but as a vehicle for Google Assistant, Mini rocks the house. Whether you want to place hands-free calls, get help organizing your day or bark out voice commands to your other smart devices, Google Home Mini punches seriously above its weight.
While most compact smart speakers are utterly underwhelming when it comes to the speaker component, the range-topping Home Max delivers in fine style. Google describes the sound as “room-filling” and we have to say, for once, a product lives up to the marketing hype.
Controlling your favorite streaming channels and apps with voice commands adds a superb layer of convenience while the pair of 4.5-inch woofers allow you to pile on the bass without any distortion thanks to the efficient housing and brace. With far-field recognition and 6 integrated mics, you can make yourself heard from a distance. From tweaking the volume to selecting a playlist, you’ll have all your music needs covered without needing to hit the controller.
You can build out sound quality further by pairing a couple of Home Max together wirelessly or grouping together some compatible third-party speakers.
On top of this sound extravaganza, you’ll also be able to control smart devices and appliances using your voice only. You can also, of course, avail yourself of Assistant to get weather and traffic reports or even search your photos and give intelligent, personalized search results based since Assistant will recognize your voiceprint.
Smart Displays with Google Assistant
2019 will be a year with more smart displays than ever appearing as we hinted in our sneak preview of CES 2019.
We’ll look now at 3 of the main players with Google Assistant on board:
• Google Home Hub
• JBL Link View
• Lenovo Smart Display
Google’s debut smart speaker might have a small 7-inch display but that becomes a selling point if you have a minimalist connected home and you’re looking for devices that blend in rather than stand out. Also, you’re not likely to dig in and watch a movie on Home Hub so less is perhaps more. 1024p x 600p resolution is sufficient for the media you’re likely to flash up.
Voice Match personalizes search and you’ll get tailor-made results whether you’re asking for traffic reports or searching through your photos.
Integration with smart home devices is beyond reproach and you’ll be able to take control of everything from your lighting and security camera through to your smart garage door opener or thermostat.
As with so many smart speakers and smart displays, Google Home Hub is a let down on the sound front but that’s more than outweighed by the shower of advantages. It’s one of the best ways to use Google Assistant in a wide range of settings.
Check out our Google Home Hub full review for a more detailed breakdown.
JBL’s impressive range of smart speakers all have Google Assistant built in while the Link View smart display is powered by Assistant.
The touch screen is 8 inches and high-def.
If you’re worried about privacy – and who isn’t? – you can mute the mic and shutter the camera so nobody is watching or listening, particularly valuable if you’re popping your smart display in the bedroom.
A pair of 10-watt speakers serves up outstanding audio while the 5-megapixel front-facing camera allows you to make video calls with clarity and that trademark sound.
If you want all that the mighty Google Assistant offers along with visual experience, Lenovo delivers a tablet-like smart display with either an 8-inch or 10-inch screen and, much like the JBL, dual 10-watt speakers to really liven up your music streaming experience.
The best stories show rather than tell and you’ll get just that with this nifty smart display. Perhaps you want to see the best route to that Airbnb you got for the weekend? Ask Assistant and you can see it in high definition on screen. Cooking up a storm? Say the word and you can get help with a recipe with Assistant pulling up a video from YouTube to show you exactly how best to cut julienne strips.
Compatible with over 5000 smart devices, you can use your voice to activate and manipulate pretty much anything in your connected home.
Third-Party Smart Speakers with Google Assistant
Increasingly, just as we’ve seen happen with Alexa, third-party smart speakers are starting to pack Google Assistant so check out 3 of the strongest options for 2019 that roll your music and search needs into one streamlined smart speaker…
• Polk Audio Assist
• LG ThinQ WK7
• JBL Link
With a bulkier footprint than Google Home, if you’re hunting for a smart speaker that actually comes good on the audio front, the Assist is a smart move and you’ll benefit from Google Assistant on board.
Although sound quality is great, don’t expect to fill a cavernous room. For anything up to a mid-sized lounge, though, you’ll enjoy the way the tweeter, amp and woofer have been designed with music streaming in mind. The soundscape is crisp and clear with plenty of depth, a combination you seldom find with smart speakers. Pol Assist functions as a Bluetooth speaker and allows for multi-room audio.
You can take care of all your smart home basics without a hitch using Assistant to control music, smart devices and search with voice commands. There are a few omissions like WiFi calling but this is hardly a deal-breaker. If music makes your world go round, check out this hard-hitting smart speaker ASAP since it’s selling out quickly.
A collaboration between tech giant LG and audio specialist Meridian, the ThinQ WK7 is a cracking smart speaker with Google Assistant driving it.
IT measures up at 8 x 5 inches so it’s not the smallest speaker on the block but you’ll get a cut-throat price along with the sound quality you’d fully expect from Meridian.
Google’s neat Voice Match is supported so you’ll get personalized service from Assistant and you can also enjoy multi-room audio but with rather more body and punch than Google Home provides.
Bridging the gap between a smart speaker and something that actually stands proud when you want to stream your mix of the moment, LG serves up a bass-heavy audio experience at a price you’ll love.
JBL Link is not exactly cheap but the superb Link series all now come with Google Assistant built in.
You can use the wake word to trigger Assistant from afar and the line-topping 500 is more than capable of filling a large room with first-rate sound, a far cry from many limp and lackluster smart speakers barely deserving of the name.
Both 2.4GHz and 5GHz WiFi is supported – check out our upcoming study of mesh networks for a breakdown on that – and you’ll also be able to group together any Chromecast-enabled speakers to listen to music throughout your house.
If the 500’s price tag makes you wince, check out the other models in this range – 10, 20 and 300 for a more pocket-friendly option. The smaller pair are both waterproof and extremely portable while also very keenly priced.
Best Devices Compatible with Google Assistant
With so many smart devices now compatible with Google Assistant and so many ways in which you can automate your home, we’ve chosen to focus on just 5 of these to give a quick indication of how you can harness Assistant to streamline operations in your smart home this year.
• Smart Lights: Philips Hue
• Smart Indoor Security Camera: Nest IQ
• Smart Lock: Yale Assure Connected by August
• Smart Doorbell: Nest Hello
• Smart Thermostat: Nest Cam Outdoor
Smart Lights: Philips Hue
The OG of smart lights, the impressive Philips Hue ecosystem is constantly swelling and you’ll be able to handle everything using your favorite digital assistant. You can buy in cheaper if you opt for Alexa since an inexpensive Echo Plus will see you up and running. If you want to use Google Assistant, on the other hand, you’ll need to pick up the Philips Hue Bridge, but this is not prohibitively pricey.
With the Google Assistant powered Home in place, you’ll be able to turn your smart lighting on and off, change brightness levels and get more in-depth by creating scenes, all this without needing to lift a finger.
You have a welter of choice at your disposal so if you brighten up your smart home and lighten your load with voice control, dig down into the Philips Hue range and see what takes your fancy.
Smart Indoor Security Camera: Nest IQ
Nest is a legend in the security camera vertical and the IQ comes with an added kicker now for US customers only…
Thanks to a recent and extremely welcome software update, IQ can effectively become a smart speaker with Google Assistant. The mic and speaker are both already in place for the purposes of two-way audio so the software tweak was all that was required to enable you to take charge of home security by making some simple voice commands instead of needing to fiddle about in-app.
On top of that, you’ll get an incredibly robust security solution to help you keep all those precious smart devices in your beloved connected home safe and sound around the clock.
Smart Lock: Yale Assure Connected by August
If you’re looking for a smooth keyless entry system that slots neatly over your existing deadbolt, the Yale Assure Connected manufactured by August brings together the lock specialist and smart home titan to stunning effect.
What’s even better is that you can control your lock using Google Assistant. While it’s undeniably convenient to bypass keys using an app and your smartphone, it’s even more streamlined still when you can command Assistant to lock up after you like something straight out of a sci-fi movie. You can also ask Google Assistant to unlock your door and you can check on the status too so this is just one more way to enjoy voice control of your smart home. You’ll get the August Connect WiFi Bridge you need to be thrown in too so you can get going straight out the box.
Smart Doorbell: Nest Hello
Nest has taken a while to get in on the video doorbell scene but Hello not only does a fine job of automating your entry system and allowing you remote access when you’re not at home, you can also enjoy full Google Assistant control for the double win.
A neat touch is that Assistant announces the name of visitors, a cool party trick and a surefire way to interest your friends in investing in this versatile video doorbell. This extra comes as part of Nest Aware, a paid subscription service.
HD video along with two-way audio makes your life so much easier. If you live in an apartment and you’re tired of running up and down the stairs to let guests in or you have a sprawling house and feel too lazy to get up off the couch, this smart doorbell is a great way to combat that. Alongside that healthy dose of convenience – convenience dramatically enhances by Google Assistant – is the added layer of security you’ll get so what are you waiting for?
Smart Thermostat: Honeywell WiFi Thermostat
Last but by no means least today, Honeywell’s enduringly popular smart WiFi thermostat helps you to save money month in and month out on your utility bills while allowing you to automate climate control in your smart home with ease.
And it gets even easier if you use Google Assistant with this Energy Star-certified and highly efficient thermostat. To use Assistant, you can use Honeywell’s own platform, Total Connect Comfort. This is a much better option than the IFTTT workaround previously required.
From programming and scheduling through notifications when it’s time to change your air filters, this punchy smart thermostat is a great way to use Google Assistant for an easier life than ever before.
As you can see, from smart speakers from Google to smart speakers from third-parties, from smart displays to Android TVs and, of course, a full range of devices for your connected home, Google Assistant is starting to show up as often as Alexa.
While this upstart in the digital butler game still has a long way to go, the race is now very much on so don’t write off Google Assistant just yet. 2019 will be another exciting year for AI and we’re eager to see what the mighty Google has in store.