One of the more frustrating experiences when using a smart speaker is trying to accomplish several things at once. For instance, if you want to dim the lights, stream your favorite music, and change the volume, it would normally require three separate commands.
Routines, which are coming to Google Home in the future, will fix this issue by allowing users to group multiple commands together under a custom phrase — not unlike routines on Alexa. However, Alexa’s routines are limited to smart home controls, traffic, weather and news, meaning you can’t play an audiobook or start music streaming with a routine.
For Google Home ($79.00 at Lowes.com), however, a compromise has arrived, flying in under the radar in a minor update this week. While Routines are still nowhere to be found, you can issue up to two commands to Google Home at once. You can say something like, “OK, Google, turn on the TV and what’s the weather?” Your TV with Chromecast ($35.00 at B&H Photo-Video) will power on and Google Home will tell you the weather for your location.
This worked with almost all the commands we tested. Traffic, however, only seemed to work sometimes. Other times Google Home just ignored the traffic request and responded to the second command. This feature is also limited to a string of two commands. Three or more commands will not work.
Here are some ways stringing commands can be incredibly useful:
- “OK, Google, play jazz music and set the volume to 5.”
- “OK, Google, dim the lights and play focus music.”
- “OK, Google, turn on the lights and find my phone.”
What makes this so neat, though, is that you can pair stringed commands with Shortcuts. In other words, in the Google Home app on Android or iOS, you can go to More settings > Shortcuts and create a shortcut called “Focus up” that plays a focus playlist on Spotify and changes the volume to 40 percent.
Unfortunately, Google Home doesn’t recognize a Shortcut when you string commands together. In other words, you can’t say, “OK, Google, focus up and dim the lights.” When we tested this, Google Home said, “I can only help with the second request.”
It’s unclear how stringing commands relates to Routines or when that feature is coming.