How I created a basic smart home with these devices
Controlling appliances and fixtures at home with just your voice is possible now thanks to new devices powered by Google Home. However, implementing it in your own household can be a bit daunting or fancy, so I tried it with a few devices on hand to see how it goes.
To give you a quick background, the devices I have were acquired over the past 2 years for certain purposes and not really for the intention of turning my home into a smart home. So I was actually a bit surprised that I have these devices that can work together and can be controlled with the help of Google Assistant. It’s not a lot, but enough to get things started.
Android or iOS device
You will need an Android or iOS device to get you started as you need to install the Google Home app. It can be a smartphone or a tablet, but in my case, I have the Huawei Mate 10 Pro which is my daily driver. For the unfamiliar, the Google Home app will help you set up, manage and control your connected home products like the ones we’re going to mention below.
JBL Link 10
The JBL Link 10 is one of the newest devices we acquired. It launched in the Philippines in September 2018 and is the base product for the whole Link series which includes the Link 20, Link 300, and Link 500. Aside from being Bluetooth-enabled, it can also connect to your home WiFi network so it can access the internet directly and activate Google Assistant.
This became our secondary device for accessing Google Assistant next to our smartphone. We simply say “Hey, Google!” and give it commands like play Spotify playlists or videos from YouTube and Netflix to my TV. My kid particularly likes how he can ask it random questions, and he’ll get answers straight from it. The JBL Link 10 is priced at PHP 9,999.
Xiaomi Mi Box
Speaking of TVs, our bedroom TV is just a regular TV and not the “smart” ones that are powered by Android, but we were able to turn it into one using the Xiaomi Mi Box 3. It’s a TV box that runs on Android Oreo and comes with a remote that has a microphone. It has our favorite apps like Spotify, YouTube, and Netflix, so it mostly handles our entertainment needs. You can get a Mi Box S for PHP 3,490.
Our living room TV gets a “smart TV” treatment as well, but instead of getting another Mi Box, we used Chromecast. That way, we can still stream YouTube and Netflix videos to it. We just need to give the command through our smartphone or the JBL Link. You can get a Chromecast 3rd-gen for under PHP 3K.
Yeelight Smart Bulb II
I purchased the Yeelight Smart Bulb II (colored) just because I became fond of RGB lighting, but I was able to maximize its potential when I connected in the Google Home network. Aside from its capability to produce 16 million colors, it is bright, WiFi-enabled, and works with Google Assistant. We can control it even when we’re away from home or integrate it with other functions with the help of IFTTT. The Yeelight Smart Bulb II is priced at PHP 1,190.
How do I use it?
Perhaps the trickiest part is setting up these devices as I encountered some network issues like the devices not connecting. Resetting the device or the WiFi router would do the trick though. Once everything is connected to your network and visible through your Google Home app, all you need to do is familiarize yourself with the Google Home features. Telling Google Assistant to play certain videos on YouTube or Netflix, then casting it to your TV is pretty basic, so what we like doing is setting up “Routines”. Just say one command and Google Assistant will do multiple things.
We just say, “Hey Google, good morning!” and the JBL Link will activate, turns on my Yeelight, gives me a weather and traffic update, provides me of whatever’s scheduled for the day in my calendar, then play my favorite playlist from Spotify.
When we say “Hey Google, time for bed.” it will set my alarm for tomorrow, provide me the predicted weather, then switches off the Yeelight.
You can customize routines based on your activities. One routine we made is for watching movies. We just say, “Hey Google, movie time.” and it will turn on our Mi Box, launch Netflix, and switches on the Yeelight for an ambient effect.
I like the experience so far as controlling devices with just my voice is cool and convenient. I don’t have to go to the device itself and press some buttons, and I can do all those anywhere as long as I’m connected to the network. It’s not for everyone though especially if budget is a concern or your internet is problematic. But if you don’t have those issues, I can say that you can make it work. You just need to learn the features so you can simplify and make things more convenient.
How about you? Would you try a Google-powered home? Let us know in the comments below.