Meet My Assistant: Google Home Mini

Google Home MiniFor the last few months, I have been using a Google Home Mini for a number of tasks around the studio apartment. In short, it is a fantastic device but this post will explore why it is a treat to use.

Back in October, the Home Mini came free with a Best Buy purchase. To be honest, I was not sure where to use it. With a Bluetooth enabled clock radio and portable speaker, it was tough finding a spot.

At first, the Google device was placed in my kitchen. Typically when making meals, I like listening to podcasts, music, or radio stations. Once setting up the device and connecting it to Wi-Fi is complete,  you have access to apps and service directly integrated with Google.

Just by saying “Hey Google, play ‘Last Podcast on the Left!'” the smart speaker uses Google Assistant to search for the latest episodes. It is also pretty useful if you are cooking a meal that takes time to make. Instead of setting a manual wind-up timer or take out a phone, telling the assistant to “Set a timer to 20 minutes” (for example) works splendidly.

The Home Mini lived in the kitchen for a while until my clock radio crapped out and so I needed an alarm clock. Sure, I could have used my phone but the smart speaker is up to the task.

I told it to set an alarm at 6 a.m. Monday through Friday and works flawlessly. It remembers to wake my butt up every weekday morning. Since my apartment is small, it still gets used about a kitchen timer and home speaker (I just leave my door open).

As a radio lover, it is a gem! It is integrated with services like TuneIn Radio, Google Podcasts, Spotify, and iHeartRadio. For example, I can say “Hey Google, play WREC 600” before I go to sleep and I am hearing “Coast to Coast AM with George Noory” in seconds.

It is not perfect though as some stations and programs don’t get recognized. Like, NPR, is confusing for the Home Mini. I would tell it to play “NPR” and instead of finding the local station, WKNO, it plays MPB Think Radio in Mississippi or some other random station.

Thankfully, it works like a Chromecast and you can cast your audio apps to the Mini seamlessly. It works as an alternative. It is also a Bluetooth device so it can pair with a smartphone or tablet as well.

Speaking of Chromecast, the Google Home Mini can act as a remote. Think of it as an Xbox Kinect. You can tell it to play, pause, rewind, etc. It works with Netflix, YouTube, and Hulu so you can be specific and tell the device to play a movie, clip, or show which will try to find it.

There are just a lot of uses with the Google Home Mini. I am still trying to figure out all of the commands, tricks, and neat things it can do. If you’re familiar with Amazon’s Alexa, then it is basically the same type of tech.

If you looking to add on as a stocking stuffer, the Google Home Mini is on sale for less than $30 during the holidays and I recommend it, especially as a tech & radio nerd!

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