Given how important smart home devices have become, it’s not a surprise that Google has a lot of updates to its Home app and how Android users can interact with those devices. The most significant update is to the aforementioned Google Home app for both Android and iOS — it has been completely redesigned and will be available tomorrow.
The app has been in preview since last fall, and Google says they’ve been iterating on it significantly based on user feedback. The new design incorporates a familiar five-tab view along the bottom of the screen: favorites, devices, activity, automation and settings. The favorites tab is the default view and lets you pin interactive tiles to the view for devices, actions and automations you use the most.
For example, it can automatically show you a view from a Nest camera, let you adjust specific lights or change the temperature in a specific room. It’ll also pop up media controls when you have an active video or audio stream playing on one of your devices. A bar at the top of the screen also shows “spaces” that are commonly used, like climate, WiFi control, cameras and lights. This makes it quick to jump right into adjusting those settings across your home.
Devices, as you might expect, shows everything you have connected, organized by room. The activity tab lets you see how things have changed with your devices, like your thermostat’s activity over time or camera events. It also contains an inbox that pulls together notifications in one place. Cameras specifically are getting a big improvement here, specifically in terms of performance. Google says cameras are 38 percent faster to show you a live feed in the new app, and accessing clips is 29 percent faster.
The automation tab is the default spot for for building routines that work across multiple devices, and you can schedule them there or active them on the fly. Finally, the settings tab was rebuilt to simplify and bring all controls you need into one place. Google called the old experience fragmented and said that centralizing these tools was a key part of the update.
Google also has some big news around support for the Matter smart home standard. Most significantly, the Google Home app for iOS now has Matter support, which means you can set up and manage Matter-compatible devices in app on your iPhone. Google says this will go live in the “coming weeks” and will require iOS 16.5. There are also new controllers in the Home app for more than 60 apps, which should make it easier to control more devices in the Home app itself.
Along with these app updates, the Google Home app is finally coming to Wear OS — you’ll be able to see your favorites on your wrist and scroll through your rooms to make adjustments as needed. You’ll also get camera notifications on your Wear OS watch with an animated preview of what just happened, so you can see that someone just delivered a package, for example. The Wear OS app will be available on May 15th.
The Home app is also getting updated to work better with tablets. It’s a smart time to do that, given the Pixel Tablet is arriving very soon. Naturally, it’ll take better advantage of a large screen and work in both landscape and portrait orientation. There’s also a new “home panel” that’ll come to both the Pixel Tablet and Pixel smartphones — this will let you do common actions like view a camera, adjust a thermostat or turn on your lights without even going into the Home app. And when the Pixel Tablet is docked, that Home panel will be accessible by anyone so they can adjust things in the house as needed.
Google also has some good news for people who own older Nest Cam devices. The first generation Nest Cam Indoor and the Nest Cam Outdoor will finally be able to be transitioned from the old Nest app to the new Home app. That’ll happen in July, and you’ll need to be using the public preview of the Home app. Google says the transfer takes about 10 minutes, and then all the data and feeds from those cameras will be available in the same app as the rest of your smart home devices.
As is often the case with Google, the timeline for all these updates varies — but the biggest change is easily coming to the Home app itself, and that’ll be available tomorrow. Get ready to mash that “update my apps” button.
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