9 things Google Nest speakers can do that you didn’t know

You can do much more than set timers and get the weather forecast from these smart speakers.

The Google Nest smart speakers (and smart displays) are some of the smartest and most versatile around. You’d be forgiven for not having been able to explore all of the features they have to offer – from controlling smart lights to playing podcasts – because there’s an awful lot that these compact gadgets can do.

Here we’ve highlighted nine different tricks that your Google Nest smart speaker is capable of, and that you might not have discovered yet.

We’ve tried to make them as useful as possible as well – translating languages and managing your shopping lists, for example – so there should be at least a few of interest. 

Google Nest Mini smart speaker on a unit in a houseCredit: Saga Exceptional

As usual with Google Nest speakers, everything is straightforward and intuitive, and you’re not going to have to plough through a lot of complicated menus or settings screens to follow these tips. They will work whether you have a Google Nest Mini or a Google Nest Audio smart speaker.

To try these tips and tricks, you need to have already set up your Google Nest speaker on your home wi-fi, and have the Google Home app for Android, iOS or iPadOS installed on a phone or a tablet.

Google’s smart speaker range

Featured product

Google Nest Audio

RRP: £89.99

Google Nest Audio

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Google Nest Mini

RRP: £49

Google Nest Mini

1. Broadcast a message

If you’ve got several Nest speakers set up, you can use a feature called Broadcast: this basically turns your speaker into an intercom system, so you can announce to everyone else at home that dinner’s ready or there’s someone at the front door.

Just say to your speaker:Hey Google, broadcast…” followed by your message, and by default it will go to every Nest speaker on the same wifi network, but you can also specify a particular room where one of your speakers is. 

Unlike with Amazon devices, where you can change the Alexa command word, you can’t do this with Google.

While you can’t change the ‘Hey Google’ wake word, you can personalise it bey changing the language used, the voice of your Google assistant or your nickname.

2. Make a shopping list

Google Nest app setup - shoppingCredit: Saga Exceptional

Your Google Nest speaker can help out if you remember something you need to buy just say:Hey Google, add [item] to my shopping list, and it’s taken care of for you, with no need to find your phone or a piece of paper.

When you’re out and about at the shops, open the Google Home app, then tap Settings > Google Assistant > Manage all Assistant settings > Notes & Lists, > Shopping Lists.

Youll be able to manually add items from this screen as well as tick them off when you’ve bought them. 

3. Pair two speakers

If you have a couple of Google Nest speakers and listen to a lot of music through them, you might want to set them up as a stereo pair for a more immersive audio experience.

From the Google Home app, open the Devices tab, tap on one of the speakers you want to pair, then tap the cog icon (top right). Choose Audio, Stereo pair, and then Next, and you’ll be able to choose the two speakers you want to link together. Any music then played through the speakers will be split into stereo channels. 

4. Turn on night mode

Google Nest app setup - night modeCredit: Saga Exceptional

You can get your Google Nest speaker to reduce the volume of its responses and the brightness of its LEDs at night. In the Google Home app, tap Devices then your speaker, then the cog icon (top right) choose Notifications and Digital Wellbeing, then Night mode to see your options.

You can turn the feature on and off manually using the toggle switch at the top, or set it to run on a timed schedule through the week. Further down, you can set the night mode volume and brightness levels.

5. Play ambient noise

If you want some ambient noise in the background to help you relax, study, or sleep, then your Google Nest speaker can lend a hand. Say something like:Hey Google, play ambient noise” to see what you get we’ve found that “white noise”, “forest sounds”, “ocean waves” and “thunderstorm sounds” all work.

There may well be more that you can find if you experiment with a few different commands (Google isn’t specific when it comes to the ambient sounds that its Nest speakers know). 

6. Change the audio mix

Google Nest app setup - equaliserCredit: Saga Exceptional

The Google Nest speaker comes with its own equaliser settings that you can tweak if you want your music to have a little more bass response or a little more high end in the mix.

These settings aren’t difficult to find either: if you open the Devices tab in the Google Home app on your phone and tablet, then choose your speaker, and you’ll see an icon at the top that looks like a series of sliders. Tap on this to find the controls for bass and treble, which can be adjusted via the sliders.

7. Translate between languages

You can use your Google Nest speaker to translate between languages. Try saying:Hey Google, translate into followed by a language, and you can then feed it phrases to translate into that language.

Another option is to say:Hey Google, how do you say [word or phrase] in [language]? and you’ll get a spoken response back.

It’s not clear just how many languages Google Assistant on the Nest speaker supports, but it’s not easy to catch it out with a language it doesn’t know. 

8. Set up routines

Google Nest app setup - routinesCredit: Saga Exceptional

Routines are bunches of actions that the Google Nest speaker will do one after the other. So, for example, you could get it to sound an alarm, tell you the news, and turn the bedroom light on when you say “good morning” to your speaker.

Routines are set in the Google Home app, and if you open it and tap Automations then Add, you can see the possibilities and some suggestions. Routines can also be triggered at a specific time of day as well as by a voice command. 

9. Find your phone

Misplaced your phone somewhere around the house? Your Google Nest speaker can help you find it. Just say:Hey Google, find my phone” or “Hey Google, ring my phone”, and it will make a sound, even if it’s in Do Not Disturb mode.

The phone must be turned on and on the same wifi network as your speaker, and it must have the Find My Device feature enabled in the phone settings you can learn more about this and how it works here. 

David Nield

Written by David Nield

Updated:

Dave is a freelance tech journalist who has been writing about gadgets, apps and the web for more than two decades. Based out of Stockport, England, you’ll find him covering news, features and reviews, particularly for phones, tablets and wearables.

David has by-lines at leading publications including TechRadar, Wired, The Guardian, Gizmodo, T3, PopSci and a few other places besides, as well as many years editing the likes of PC Explorer and The Hardware Handbook.

When he’s not busy writing, he enjoys watching football and long walks in the countryside.

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