The new update introduces streamlined media controls that let you spontaneously create a speaker group without having to go to the settings menu. You can also bring speakers in or out of the mix on the go, while music or other audio continues to play. With these new media controls, rocking your way around my mansion – with its office on the first floor, kitchen and living areas on the second, and sleeping quarters on the third – just got a lot easier.
The new Control Panel is quite simple and intuitive, but there are a few ways to use it that work better than others, as well as some pitfalls to be aware of. Here’s how I followed the music – and made the music follow me – with Google Home’s new media control interface.
How to find the New Media Control Panel
To go to the new media control, open it Google Home app and tap the green round button at the top of the screen labeled Media. It should be grouped with similar (but different colored) buttons for it Lights, Broadcast, Routines and possibly some others.
This will open a screen with the current track at the top (if you’re already jamming) or the logo for your default music service, followed by a list of your devices with small round buttons to turn them on or off. You may need to tap More devices in the lower right corner if you have a large enough collection (like mine – currently eight). At the end of the list an option to Stop the music will appear when the music is playing.
After all the device names you will see a list of speaker groups (if you have created one) and at the very bottom of the screen there is a menu called Manage your system. The oval buttons are labeled Music, Video and Radio takes you to the settings for those categories (where you can link services, choose default settings and, under Video, link Google Photos). Create a group opens the page where you can create and save a specific speaker group.
You can play music in the app, but not
If nothing’s playing on one of your speakers, you can technically get the party started from the control panel in the Google Home app itself, but you’re extremely limited in what you can play. First, you can only play from, which for many people may be all they use. However, I have linked three different services to Google Home: YouTube Music (my default), Pandora, and SiriusXM.
Second, it seems like it can only play a random selection of songs I’ve listened to before, which would be fine I guess if I didn’t listen to a range of genres including reggae, jazz, classical, grunge and, lately, holiday music. Bob Marley followed by Miles Davis, Mozart and Carol of the Bells can get a little disorienting. There’s a much better way to get things going, so keep reading.
Start music with a voice command, then play with the controls in the app
The best way to get some tunes going is with a voice command. It doesn’t matter which speaker you’re around or if you want to play through it – you can change that in an instant. Just choose a song, playlist or channel you want to hear from one of your linked music services with a command likeHey, Google, play [song, playlist or channel] On [music service, if other than your default]. “
Once something is playing, open the controls to make adjustments. You can add and subtract speakers (by pressing the circle buttons next to the names of your devices) and adjust the volume, both for individual speakers on the sliders that appear below their name or before anything that is playing on the slider on the top.
Don’t let the volume get out of hand
Perfectly dialing in volume on multiple devices can be a bit of a challenge. You don’t want the speaker in another room to overpower the speaker in the room you’re in, and if you’re not careful, increasing the system volume can unreasonably louder a speaker in the distance.
Here’s what I did to get the mix just right: I pushed the system’s master volume knob to 50% and then played some music through all the speakers. Starting in the office on the first floor, I adjusted the speakers in the room I was in, then moved to the next room and did the same until I had gone all over the house. Then I did another walk-through to make sure I wasn’t getting any overflow from other rooms.
From then on, I only touched the main system volume slider, never the individual devices, making them all perfectly balanced with each other. Whenever I immediately added a new speaker, I shifted the master volume back to 50% before adding it so that the ratios between speaker volumes remained consistent.
You may see shakiness, but you can fix it
Most of the minor issues I encountered when I started testing the new media controls were resolved with a simple router reset. Yet the whole system still seems a bit vulnerable. For example, I found it best to wait for a new speaker to connect and play music before adding another, or it may take more than once to connect. Sometimes, even when I took the time to add speakers to the mix, a duplicate menu would pop up with a different song playing.
If one speaker starts playing and is slightly out of sync with the rest, don’t mess with the Group delay correction settings. Just unplug it and plug it back in, and it’ll probably sync the second time.
Once you’ve mastered Google Home’s new media controls, you can tryto turn off the music at a later time (such as a quiet hour in your neck of the woods, for example). And if you have several devices around your house and you are not using them , you are really missing out. You can also pump more than just music through all those smart speakers – here’s how to listen to it on Google Home.