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Home / Tips and Tricks / Google Home: Scheduling Tasks is new, quirky, and cool. Here’s how to do it

Google Home: Scheduling Tasks is new, quirky, and cool. Here’s how to do it



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Google Home can now take an action in the future – according to Google up to seven days from now.

Dale Smith / CNET

Not all the smart homework I ask for Google home to perform well must be done right now. Things like turning off the lights before bed or starting a coffee pot in the morning can (and should) wait, especially if I’m giving commands from another room. Other functions I need to start immediately, but I prefer they don’t run all day and night if I forget to turn them off – like running my stove. Until recently, Google Home could only execute commands immediately. If I wanted something to turn off after a certain amount of time, well, Google Home could set a timer for me, but in the end I would have to remember what to do once it went off.

All that has changed thanks to a recent update. Now you can have Google Home delay certain tasks for up to a week – or you can start something now, but put a due date or time on it so that it stops later. What’s better, you can also schedule tasks around sunrise or sunset and Google Home will calculate what time that is for you based on your location.

As with any new feature, there were a few kinks that needed to be ironed out at launch, but some that I pointed out in the original version of this article have apparently since been addressed. Here’s how to schedule Google Home actions now, and some examples of when this new feature might come in handy:

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Say, “Hey Google, play ten minutes of happy music” to time your shower if you have a smart speaker in the bathroom.

Dale Smith / CNET

Start with these Google Home planning basics

At the simplest level, you just need to add a certain amount of time to your command for Google Home to take an action later. After you say, “Hey Google, turn off the lights in my bedroom,” just add “in 15 minutes.” Google Home confirms with a precise time, so if you gave that command at 9:02 PM, it would respond, ‘Of course I turn off the lights at 9:17 PM’

Likewise, if you want something to happen over a period of time, add the duration to the end of your assignment. “Okay Google, turn on my bedroom lighting for five minutes” might give you just enough time to grab a bite to eat, for example. Or, “Hey Google, play relaxing music for 30 minutes” can be long enough to put you to sleep.

Google says you can set delays up to seven days ahead

While the documentation on Google’s developer support pages says that Google Home can delay a promotion for up to seven days, some users have reported that it is difficult to get it going with something that will be offset by more than a day, so the number mileage may vary.

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There are a few more kinks to get rid of, but overall, Google Home’s new scheduling feature works well.

James Martin / CNET

If you want Google Home to do a task, say tomorrow, you need to be as accurate as possible in how you pronounce the command. In other words, don’t just say “Hey Google, turn on the living room TV tomorrow” or even “tomorrow morning”. Instead, say, ‘Turn on the living room TV at 8 a.m. tomorrow’

Security measure or malfunction? You can judge it

I’m big on space heaters in winter, but I’m well aware of how they can drive your energy costs through the roof. I’ve glued all kinds of smart home appliances together to turn my heaters off after a short while – usually 20 minutes. I think if I’m still cold I’ll just put it back on. If not, great! So when I found I could now schedule actions, this was the very first thing I tried: “Hey, Google, turn on my office heating for 20 minutes.”

Imagine my dismay when Google Home replied, “Sorry, I can’t schedule actions for devices configured as heaters.” Luckily, I was pretty sure I knew a solution: change the device type so that Google Home thinks it’s a light. (Checking out this article about getting “short mode” from Google Home for the step-by-step instructions on how to change the device type).

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You have to trick Google Home into thinking that a heater plugged into a smart outlet is a lamp before you can schedule it on or off.

Dale Smith / CNET

Sure enough, although my ‘light’ is called ‘office heating’, Google Home will now run it for the requested 20 minutes (although it will now also turn on my heater when I tell it to ‘turn on the lights’ so I’ll have to fidget a bit to iron out that bug too).

This week’s hosts in Tech’s Smart Tech Today podcast pointed out in their November 30 episode that Google likely disabled scheduling on devices identified as heaters as a safety precaution. I get it: Space heaters are responsible for 40% of all home fires and 84% of associated deaths, according to the National Fire Protection Association. That is why I would like to emphasize that I never leave space heaters unattended, and you shouldn’t: for health and safety reasons, you should always keep an eye on your stove.

I’ll stay up to date with new (and new to you) Google Home features so you don’t have to. Check out some of the ones I’ve recently described such as The new home and away modes of Google Home, the broadcast function that Apple has ripped off for his HomePod ($ 250 at Best Buy) and this collection of five of my favorite Google Home tips and tricks.


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