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Although Google Home has been on the market for less than a year, it is learning new tricks that are surpassing the Amazon Echo. And these new features are all very useful.

Google Home

Multi-user Support

One of the best of these new features is that Google Home now has the ability to recognize different voices. The Google Assistant can recognize up to six different voices. Just set up the Multi-user feature in the Google Home app to link your Google Account and your voice to the Google Home device. Then when you speak to the Google Home device it will recognize you and give you a personalized daily briefing. You can also have the Google Assistant make appointments as well as read your appointments to you. When the next family member speaks to the device, it will give them their own personal information.

Hands-free Calling

Amazon recently announced hands-free calling for their Echo devices. However the recipients need to either have an Echo device themselves or the Alexa app installed on their phones. Google Home’s calling feature will allow calls to any phone in the US or Canada for free. Users will be able to use a private number provided by Google or can link the Home to their personal number. This feature will roll out the Google home devices in the US over the next few months.

Help in the Kitchen

Google Home can now help you find a recipe and give you step-by-step instructions. Just ask Google to find a recipe or find a recipe on your phone or tablet (desktop is not supported). All the major cooking partners like allrecipes.com, foodnetwork.com, bonappertit.com and epicurious.com are supported. As long as you are on the same Wi-Fi network as your Home device you can send the recipe to the Google Home. You can find instructions in the Google Home Help area. It is, however, easy to do.

Once Google Home has your recipe it can give you step-by-step instructions which you can control with your voice. You can even listen to music as you get the cooking instructions.

As another support for its cooking efforts, Google Home now works with the Anova Sous Vide cooker.

Play the Radio

Google Home can play radio stations with any addition instructions. Just say something like “Play FM 102.5” and the Assistant will tune in through iHeart Radio or Tunein without further instructions.

Help Your Memory

Google Home is great at helping you remember important things like passwords or the like. Just say “OK Google, remember that I put the gold coins in the bottom drawer.” When you want to recall what you’ve told Google just ask, “OK, Google what have I told you to remember?”

Netflix & You Tube

Putting a $35 Chromecast on your television and subscribing to Netflix is worthwhile just to see how Google Home can handle your Netflix requests.

Just say “OK, Google, play House of Cards on TV.” Since I have a Harmony Remote, Google Home will start the TV and play House of Cards starting right where I left off. If you don’t have a Harmony Remote like the Harmony Remote Elite that we reviewed, you may have to turn the TV on and set it to the proper input yourself.

You can also ask Google to go pause, go back, and go to the next episode. Google is working on an even fuller Netflix experience for Google Home. I expect that to be a Netflix starting page that Google home can control.

Google Home also works similarly with You Tube. Just have a Chromecast on your TV. Turn it on and voice your request.

Ambient Sounds

If you like to fall asleep to nature sounds or white noise, won’t need a sound machine anymore with Google Home. It can be turned into a sound machine just by asking Google to play forest sounds, white noise, ocean sounds, thunderstorm sounds and more. There are 15 sounds listed on the Google website. Unless you turn off the sound, it will play for an hour.

Google Assistant on iPhone

You can now install the free Google Assistant app on an iPhone or iPad. If you are on the same Wi-Fi network as your Home device you can use it pretty much like the Google Home. It is great for control the lights and switches. Now, even though I don’t have a Google Home device in the bedroom, I can just reach for my iPhone and tell the Assistant to turn all the lights off after I’m in bed.

Music

The Google Home beats the Amazon Echo in its ability to play music, especially to play music throughout the house. Check out my article on Using Google Home for Whole House Audio to learn more.

Bluetooth Support

All existing Google Home devices will soon get Bluetooth support so you can stream from iOS and Android devices.

Audible

Since Audible is owned by Amazon, the Amazon Echo devices can read Audible books. While Google Home doesn’t natively support Audible, if you have an Android device you can play the Audible book on your device and Cast it to your Google Home device. Unfortunately this doesn’t work on Apple devices.

Summary

Google has already announced several additional features that will be added to Google Home in the near future including new video partners HBO Now and Hulu. Even with the release of the Echo View, Amazon will have its hands full just trying to keep up with Google. Check out the latest about Google Home from Google on the Google Home Blog.

Sandy Berger, respected computer authority, journalist, media guest, speaker, and author, has more than three decades of experience as a computer and technology expert. Her eight books include: How to Have a Meaningful Relationship with Your Computer, Your Official Grown-up's Guide to AOL and the Internet, Cyber Savers –Tips & Tricks for Today’s Drowning Computer Users, Sandy Berger’s Great Age Guide to Better Living through Technology, Sandy Berger’s Great Age Guide to the Internet, Sandy Berger’s Great Age Guide to Gadgets & Gizmos, Sandy Berger’s Great Age Guide to Online Health & Wellness, and Sandy Berger’s Great Age Guide to Online Travel. Sandy’s newspaper column, magazine articles, feature stories, product reviews, and computer tips can be found at her website, Compu-KISS.