Is Google Home a Mom’s Best Friend? I Put It To The Test To Find Out
Thank you to Google for sending me a free Google Home to review for this post! All opinions, of course, are my own.
My family and I just moved into a new house, also known as “something I never, ever want to experience again.” Moving with four kids was not fun at all, but setting up our new digs and decorating and enjoying having a kitchen we can actually all fit into has been fun. We moved from a pretty small kitchen to a house with a more open and spacious kitchen and it's by far my favorite part of the house (hello, pantry!). As we unpacked everything and settled into our new kitchen, I was excited to try out the new sidekick that would be joining me in the new space:
Our Google Home.
I have to admit that I'm not someone who gets super excited about technology; I'm a writer by trade and honestly, I get pretty tired of being on screens all day long. So I was 100% skeptical about trying out the Google Home–the last thing I wanted was to be tethered to another device. But I was interested to see if the Google Home assistant could improve my life as a mom of four young kids who also happens to work at home.
I wondered if the Google Home could actually free me from my phone in a lot of ways. Instead of having to pick up my phone to check my schedule, for instance, I could call across the kitchen and have it read to me; Instead of looking up a recipe for dinner, I could have Google Home read it to me as I burned, erm, cooked. Instead of typing stuff in my phone, all I would have to do is say, “Hey, Google” and I could have answers right then and there.
So, I was intrigued by the idea of having some freedom from my phone but also not entirely sold on the idea of adding another piece of tech to our family, but I decided to give it a shot. Here's what I loved and didn't love about our Google Home:
Putting It To Work
Setting up our Google Home was super simple–it's ready straight from the box and good to go in minutes. Mine found its home on our kitchen counter because I knew that's where we'd get the most use out of it and I happen to like the look of it too. I think it's pretty and flows into the decor of our home seamlessly. (Ours even got a Christmas wreath around it.)
The way it works is simple too: All you do is say, “Hey, Google” or “OK, Google” to it and it will learn your voice. As soon as it hears that, it activates and is ready to go. Your Google Home will learn up to six family member voices–all you have to do is say, “Hey, Google” to it a few times. Mine has learned all of our voices so far, but still has trouble with the three-year-old's.
It links to your home WiFi, so it doesn't need a separate data plan either.
What We Loved About Google Home
“You can ask it any question and it will answer you.” — my nine-year-old
Yup, this feature was a huge hit. My kids pretty much spent an entire day talking to Google and getting answers to super important questions like “What's the biggest piece of poop in the world?” or “What dinosaur weighs the most?”
“If you don't know something, instead of typing it on your phone, you can just say, ‘Hey, Google'.”–also my nine-year-old
Just like I hoped, this was also a feature I really loved. I use my phone for pretty much everything, from jotting notes to shopping lists to adding events to my calendar, so it's been incredibly freeing to not have to physically stop and add things to my phone anymore.
“Using it as a speaker” — me
By far, this was the favorite feature of the Google Home for me. It links to Pandora for free and you can say, “Hey, Google, play Christmas music on Pandora” to have amazing quality sound fill your house as you clean, cook, and hang out with the kids. I love having music in the kitchen, but my phone is never loud enough and other Bluetooth speakers haven't worked well for me. Our Google Home is pretty much playing music nonstop and I love that feature the most.
What We Didn't Love
It used a lot of data
Using Google Home did seem to use a lot more data than normal for us, but that may have been the initial software downloading and updating. If you have unlimited data, that's probably not an issue for you. But we live in a rural area with limited Internet, so we do need to keep tabs on our data.
The creepy factor
When you initially set up Google, it does give you the option to turn off data collection to send to Google, which I opted to turn off. And I admit I was totally worried that Google would be listening in on me talking about Christmas presents, only to have magically have an ad about that toy appear on my phone later that day. But all of the experts assure us that's not the case–Google Home only records a snippet of your voice after it's activated for simple searching purposes. That's it.
Other Cool Features For Moms
There are also a ton of other cool features that the Google Home can do that are especially helpful for moms, such as:
- You can use Baby Stats to keep track feedings, stool, diapers, and more
- The “I'm bored” prompt–if your kid says, “OK, Google, I'm bored” it will prompt your child with games and trivia. Genius.
- Talk to the Friendly Librarian for book suggestions and facts.
- Read a recipe out loud by staying, “OK Google, start recipe.”
- Shopping list–you can shout “Add toilet paper to the shopping list” from across the room and then open the list on your phone when you're actually at the store.
It's worth it. The Google Home is definitely something I would recommend for gifts for moms or parents this holiday. It's perfect because it's easy to use, actually helpful for moms, and can even entertain the kids. It's a low-tech present that won't tether a family to a screen, but actually has freed us more to enjoy life and each other. The Google Home mini would essentially do the same thing as the full-sized version a lot more affordably and there are also a ton of sales on the full version, so keep an eye out if you're looking to buy or gift one this year!