I've been playing with a new toy over the last couple of months. It’s one that’s provided me with company when I’m home alone, an extra pair of hands when I’m in the kitchen, and music on demand without me having to pick up my phone – and nope, it’s not a second boyfriend, it’s the new Google Home Mini!
If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve probably heard me chatting about the Google Home Mini quite a bit as I’m constantly amazed by what the device can do. For those who aren’t familiar, the Google Home Mini is a smart, voice-activated speaker that’s powered by the Google Assistant.
Using just your voice, you can ask the device to play music, make calls, set timers, check the weather, read out your daily schedule, and answer whatever question you want, all while going about your day at home and without having to pick up your phone or laptop.
Before Google approached me this Autumn to try out their newest Google Home product, I knew very little about the Google Assistant and why it’s such an impressive addition to the house.
Now that we’ve been using our Google Home Mini for the last 2 months and also have the Google Pixel 2, it’s become one of those “Why wouldn’t you have one of these at home?” kind of devices and I love how streamlined it makes your day-to-day.
We named our Google Assistant Donna (if you watch Suits, then you’ll get why), and she has the loveliest British accent, which makes her goodnight messages sound that bit sweeter! The other great thing is that it’s so tiny – pretty much the size of a cookie – and so you can easily place the device anywhere in your home and you won’t even notice it’s there.
I have a lot of great things to say about the Google Home Mini, and the best thing about it is that it’s so affordable - $79 normally, but $39 until Dec 31st – thus you get so much bang for your buck and in such a small, discreet device. If you already have the Google Home, the Google Home Mini is a great addition to the house as it all syncs together and the idea is that you have a device in every main room. Here’s a little overview of what I love most about the Google Home Mini, why it’s an essential and its best features if you’re thinking about getting one for yourself!
The Google Home Mini retails for just $79 (or $39 until Dec 31st) and it’s available in 3 colours – chalk (a light grey) , charcoal, and coral (we have charcoal).
The pebble-shaped design is really sleek & cute, and it has a rough textured wrap around the top of the speaker. There are 4 lights on the top that illuminate when the device is active, and the device will only ever start listening when you say the magic words, which are either “Ok Google” or “Hey Google”.
If you want to, you can mute the microphone and use it just as a speaker. You set up the device using your phone, and then you connect it to your home WiFi network. The setup is super easy and takes only a few minutes.
You can buy the device from the Google Store or shops like Best Buy.
One of my favourite features is the speaker. The sound quality is fantastic and I love that it’s so small and discreet. You can ask the device to play a song,and it plays music through Spotify or Google Play. Since we have a 1-bedroom apartment the Google Home Mini is the perfect size sound-wise, but if you have a house or bigger condo, I’d recommend the Google Home which is slightly larger with a more powerful speaker.
The Google Assistant
Not sure how many grams are in a cup? Want to make cookies but not sure how hot to set the oven? The Google Assistant is so useful whether you’re in the kitchen cooking dinner or you just can’t be bothered to go grab your phone. It’s essentially like using Google Search on your phone or computer, except you ask the device a question and it responds and reads out the answer. It’s so simple and useful especially when you’ve got your hands full.
Timers & reminders
My memory is awful when it comes to remembering what time I’ve put things on to cook, so the timer is something I use a lot, especially when I’m making eggs or baking.Just say, “Hey Google, set a time for 20 minutes.” The “reminders” feature is really useful too, and you can add items to your Google Shopping list via the Google Home and then view them on your phone.
I’ll usually say good morning to the device, and she’ll then give an overview of the weather that day as well as what my schedule looks like. This is so useful and the device also recognizes different voices so it doesn’t get your schedule mixed up if multiple people have their Google accounts connected.
Smart Home Control
One very cool thing about the Google Home is that it syncs up with other smart devices in the house. You can hook it up to your Chromecast so you can stream movies & music through your TV with just a voice command. It also works with Netflix, YouTube, Google Play & Nest, to name a few.
Things To Remember
The Google Home Mini really is an assistant and the “Things To Remember” feature is very clever. You can tell your device what to remember, for example, “Hey Google, remember that my passport is in my desk drawer”, and then when it comes to finding your passport, all you need to ask is “Hey Google, where’s my passport?” and it will tell you the answer!
HOW I USE MY GOOGLE HOME MINI
“Ok Google, what’s the weather going to be like today?”
“Hey Google, is tonight’s flight running on time?”
“Ok Google, if I make a batch of cookies is it okay if I eat them all before Matt gets home?!?” (Of course, the Google Assistant couldn’t answer this one, but if it could, I’m guessing the answer would be YES!!)
These are just a couple of the commands that I use on a regular basis and the possibilities are endless in terms of what you can do/ask!
I’m all about making things efficient and streamline at home, especially because I usually have a million things to do each day and working from home means I have to minimize distractions so that everything gets done.
I’ve found since using the Google Home Mini, I use my phone a lot less and for things like music, timers, reminders, weather checks and Google searches, I simply ask the device rather than pick up my phone. I often get so easily distracted by things like emails and Instagram, so it definitely helps me to stay focused and on track.
One of my favourite things about the device is the comebacks, especially when you say goodnight. Her response is usually something cute like, “Up the wooden hill to Bedfordshire you go!” or “Sweet dreams”, which always makes me smile so much!
The device doesn’t always know how to answer complex questions, but the cool thing is that it’s constantly learning and getting smarter as you use it.
All in all, it’s safe to say that I really love the Google Home Mini and I’m constantly amazed by how many clever things it can do. If you’re looking for a Christmas gift this year or you want to enhance your home with a clever assistant, the Google Home Mini is definitely the way to go! Let me know if you have any questions about the device & i’ll be happy to share more about my experience.
(Disclaimer: This post was created in partnership with Google Canada. All opinions and thoughts expressed are my own 🙂 )
I got one as a gift and am really nervous to use it. I’m nervous that the device will know all my private information
Hi Yael. You don’t have to worry about that. When I received the device, I contacted Google myself to ask whether the device is always listening, as it was a query of mine too, and they fully assured me that the device is only activated when you say “Hey Google” or “Okay Google”. If you’re still worried, you can always turn off the microphone on the bottom and just use it to play music through Bluetooth on your phone. Obviously, the voice feature won’t work and that’s one of the cool things about it, but if you’re still nervous then at least you’ll still get use out of it 🙂 It’s a brilliant speaker. Hope this helps!
Great post Alicia. You have a nice easy style that is informative & genuine. I’m on the verge of getting one of these but worry about privacy. Donna in “Suits” (to use your analogy) stays in control by always listening in to her bosses conversations. Is Google Home really only activated when you command or will I start to receive marriage guidance counselling adverts after an argument with my missus ?
Alicia, what kind of phone do you have? I’ve got an iphone and wonder how compatible it would be? I’m specifically thinking about the music I have loaded on my iphone (through itunes) and whether I can play that through the speakers or will it only play online music? I’ve been looking for a cute mini speaker for my phone for a while but love the idea that this could do that plus more! (for the same price as just speakers!)
I have an iPhone too, it doesn’t matter what phone you have as the speaker connects through Bluetooth 🙂 I’ve looked into it and unfortunately, iTunes isn’t compatible with the Google Home, only Spotify and Google Play music are at the moment. But if you use either one of those as well then it’s perfect! 🙂 And I completely agree – we’ve been looking for a Bluetooth speaker for a while and the Home Mini is so affordable and does so much! Let me know if you have any other questions, hope that’s cleared things up! xx