When I pre-ordered my Pixel 2 XL Google threw in a free Google Home Mini. I’ve resisted buying an Amazon Echo not because I thought they were creepy or invasive, but because I just couldn’t think of a good use case. I’d hear over and over again that “you just need to have one” and then it will make sense. So I was kind of curious to see if the light bulb would go off once I received my Mini. The short answer is, it didn’t. I can take it or leave it.
It arrived about a month ago. I set it up in the kitchen because that seemed like the place where we’d be most likely to use a hands free device. When you activate the it, Google sends out a series of daily emails with different commands that you can try. I’ve tried everything that I could – I’m not particularly interested in hooking up my lights or my thermostat to my wifi – and really I only use it for two things:
- “Hey Google, play Pandora” to put on some music while we’re in the kitchen
- I cast my podcasts to it from Pocket Casts because the mini’s speaker works better than my phone’s
That’s about it. A lot of people use it for timers, but I like to be able to visually glance at my timers, so I still prefer using the microwave, stove, or even my phone. I realized that I’m constantly glancing to assess what I can and can’t get done before a timer goes off.
I’ve had a few instances where both my phone and the Mini start playing Pandora at the same time, which is not supposed to happen and is quite annoying.
If anything, my big takeaway is that I want to get some Chromecast audio speakers to be able to cast throughout the house. It’s just as easy to use as Chromecast video, and you can set up different zones with groups of speakers (for instance, you can play Pandora everywhere or just upstairs or downstairs or outside). I think I’ll buy just speakers though, not a bunch of Google Home’s.
For $49 (or $29 through the holidays), it’s still probably worth the price to have. Occasionally it might be useful to ask a question. Maybe they’ll add something cool in the future. But I still don’t “get” smart speakers and I can’t say I’m itching to buy another one.