I had been googling Amazon Echo and Google Home constantly to find out which one I should get. Apple wasn’t really a consideration for me. I decided to go with Google Home Mini and found one for just under a grand. I kept on going back and forth until I was like just do it (since reading How to manage your money like a f&^& grownup I have been saving every penny). The Google Home Mini takes everything I like, like podcasts, blinkist, audiobooks, meditation and allows me to use them all in one.
⚙️Setting up the Google Home Mini
Remember when tech would come in huge boxes (like when I got my first Nokia 3210), and it would take forever to set up, well those days are gone. The Google Home Mini is plug and play. I connected it to the wifi, downloaded the Google Home app and was good to go.
I make a point of saying please and thank you because I don’t want to be impolite.
📰OK Google, give me my morning briefing
All personalisation is set through the Google Home app. I don’t really follow the news (I always think if it’s important it will find me, also it is sometimes too depressing) but I like to stay up to date on tech developments. I listen to the Mashable Tech Update, NPR Tech and Wired News. I also get the weather and how long it will take me to get to work. If the news isn’t interesting, you can easily skip it.
OK Google, give me The Blinkist Minute
I’ve been raving about Blinkist for a few years now, the app that summarises the best non-fiction, and they have something called The Blinkist Minute which comes in a newsletter but you can also ask for it on Google Home.
OK Google, Headspace
Meditation apps are an easy way to get you to meditate and one of the best ones out there is called Headspace. You can do daily guided meditations which are perfect for the mornings.
🛒OK Google, add shopping list to my shopping list
While we have an old-school notepad on our fridge, adding items to our Google shopping list never gets old. See Google repeats what you have added. It is funny when you throw in South African words like koeksister, tell Google to add balls to my shopping list or even shopping list.
The shopping list is available through the app.
😂OK Google, tell me a joke
This is probably one of my favourite features. Daryl and I play this game where you are not allowed to laugh at the joke. I am terrible at it and laugh at most. My favourite is still “How do you wake Lady Gaga up?” “You poke her face”.
⏰OK Google, set an alarm for 6.30 every morning
Daryl got me good when he set an alarm from 6.00 to 6.15. So 6.01 then 6.02… I had no idea how to deactivate the alarm and eventually started shouting “OK Google, shut the f&^% up”. Because I’m an adult. You can set alarms for anything as well as timers.
⏳OK Google, set a timer for 20 minutes
I made a birthday cake for my sibling’s birthday and used this feature a lot. I did, however, think that if the electricity went I would be effed. And because it’s voice-activated you don’t even have to clean your hands.
🎙️OK Google, play a podcast/music
I also love podcasts, and the Google Home connects to your podcast player and plays the ones you want. You can easily skip or pause. The sound quality is really good. I was looking to buy a speaker for my music, but there is no need with a Google Home Mini. I actually mostly use the Mini for music, podcasts and audiobooks.
It can go quite loud, and sometimes I have to realise I live in a complex with neighbours who may not share my tastes.
🎗️OK Google, where did I put my ID?
This is a great feature if you lose stuff easily. When you put something away, like an ID or passport, simply tell Google “OK Google, remember that I put my ID in the top drawer in the study”. And then when you need your ID, you can just ask “Ok Google, where is my ID?” and Google will reply “The last time you saved it was in the top drawer in the study”.
💓Why I love the Google Home Mini
While most of this functionality is available via Google Assistant, the sound quality is a huge differentiator for me. This also means I don’t need to use my phone battery. I use my Google Home Mini several times a day, and it has become an important part of my morning routine.
You can connect it to your TV to play YouTube videos and Netflix, but I haven’t done that yet.
👎What sucks slightly about the Google Home Mini
While it works just fine in SA, some functionality isn’t available here yet and there are some really cool UK and USA functions out there.
Sometimes Google doesn’t understand a question and you get the “I’m unable to help with that yet”. So you need to find a workaround or ask in a different way.
Should you get the Google Home Mini?
Voice and AI are only going to get bigger and the Google Home Mini is an amazing entry-level product that gives you a taste of what’s to come. It is not only useful, has amazing sound but will also give you a few laughs.
The best place I’ve found to buy a Google Home Mini in South Africa is GeeWiz.
Disclaimer: I bought the Google Home Mini with my own cash money. And for that reason, it is still with me. I knew things were getting serious when I walked in one day and said: “Geez Google it’s freaking cold”.