Google Home automation now offers more trigger options to rival Amazon Alexa and Apple HomeKit

Cupertino, August 29, 2023

Google has recently announced new triggers and actions for its smart home automation platform. In a blog post, Google revealed that it has added nine new "starters" and nine new "actions" to its platform. This means that users can now set up automations based on various events such as a door opening or closing, a device being plugged in or charging, changes in temperature or humidity sensor readings, presence detection, and more.

Some of the notable starters include the ability to trigger an automation when a lock is jammed, which is a feature not commonly seen in other smart home platforms. Another interesting option is the ability to perform actions based on docking or undocking a device. For example, if a user regularly docks their phone to charge while working at a desk, they can set an automation to turn on the backlight when the device is docked and turn it off when the device is undocked.

In terms of actions, Google has introduced several new options including the ability to open or close something, pause or resume an activity, start or cancel a timer, mute or unmute the volume, perform a device reboot, and more.

While Google's new additions are comprehensive, one area where the competition, such as Amazon Alexa, has an advantage is in sound detection. Amazon Alexa can initiate actions based on specific sounds it detects, such as a baby crying or a dog barking. Google and Apple may eventually add similar features to their platforms.

To access these new launchers and actions, users can find them under the Automation tab in the Google Home app for both Android and iOS devices. The blog post also provides helpful examples of how these new features can be used, such as setting up automations for when a device is charging or docking, providing visual feedback through light pulses, scheduling device reboots, and more.

In the smart home market, Google, Apple, and Amazon are the major players with their respective platforms, Home, HomeKit, and Alexa. Amazon had the advantage of being the first to enter the market, offering low-priced devices like the Echo Dot. Apple was slower to enter the market but has since gained momentum with its HomeKit ecosystem. Google sits between the two, offering smart displays and a versatile Home app.

AI is the next logical step in smart home technology. With AI, routines and automations can be created automatically based on observed user behavior. Smart thermostats like Ecobee and Google Nest already adjust schedules and temperatures based on user behavior. This technology is an early indication of the potential for highly intelligent homes in the future.

However, as technology advances, cautionary tales such as Michelangelo Antonioni's film "Zabriskie Point" (1970) and Donald Cammell's film "Demon Seed" (1977) come to mind. These films explore themes of consumerism and the relationship between artificial intelligence and humans, reminding us to consider the implications of rapidly advancing technology.

Overall, Google's new launchers and actions are now available in the Home app, offering users more options and flexibility in automating their smart homes.

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