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Is Google Home Good For Seniors? (How Smart Devices Can Help)

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Updated September 23, 2022 – The Google Home product is another voice activated daily assistance device that, just like Alexa, can provide many different “services” to senior citizens. There are many similarities and some differences. So, which one to choose?

These types of devices are known as smart speakers. They act like virtual assistants and are programmed to perform a variety of tasks such as setting alarms, creating shopping lists, playing music and providing updates on the news, weather and traffic. All can be done with a simple voice command.

They can be controlled via an app which can be installed on an Android devices such as a smartphone or tablet. The app can also work on iPhones and iPads.

You may hear the term “Google Assistant” and that refers to the voice that you hear on Google Home. It’s confusing, I know. Just think of it this way…

  • Google Home is the physical device that you plug in.
  • Google Assistant is the voice that you hear from Google Home when you ask it something.

This voice command device can also be used to control other devices in your home such as your lights or thermostat. Like Alexa, Google Home also has the ability to place phone calls.

One of the main selling points for Google Home speakers is its ability to integrate with other Google products such as Gmail, Calendar, and Maps. So, if you are a fan of all things Google, then this might be the device for you.

So, what are the downsides? One of the complaints about Google Home is that it doesn’t have as many “skills” as the Amazon Echo. This means that there are some things that Google Home just can’t do yet.

What Are Skills?

Basically, the word skills refers to the features that each of these digital assistants can provide. So being able to make a phone call is a skill. Think of skills like apps on your smartphone.

Some people find the voice of Google Home to be a bit robot-like and not as natural sounding as the voice of Amazon’s Alexa. So, if you are looking for a device that is going to sound like a real person, Google Home might not be the best option.

Another downside is that it can be tricky to set up. You have to have a strong internet connection and be somewhat familiar with technology to get it up and running. So, if you are not particularly tech-savvy, Google Home might not be the best choice for you.

Overall, Google Home is a great option for those who are looking for an affordable way to get started with smart assistants. It has all of the basic features that you would expect, and it works well with other Google products.

Is Google Home Good For Older Adults?

Google home is a very good voice assistant device for seniors but Amazon’s Alexa has more skills. Both Google Home and Alexa devices provide skills such as reminders, routines, ability to make phone calls, weather and news and access to 911 and so much more. But Alexa has over 100,000 skills vs Google’s 80,000 skills.

The Google Home and Amazon Echo harness a lot of potential as useful tools for seniors. Given some care and effort, a voice assistant can become a highly versatile companion.

American Foundation For The Blind

I use both Google Home and Alexa smart speaker devices in my home and I can absolutely attest to the fact that they do improve my quality of life! For example, I can use my Google Home to set reminders for myself throughout the day. This is really helpful because I might forget to take my medication or do something else if I don’t have a reminder.

Not only that, but I can also use it to play music, podcasts, and audiobooks. This is great because I can listen to whatever I want without having to fiddle with my smart phone or another device. And if I’m feeling lazy, I can even ask it to read the news aloud to me while I’m getting ready in the morning.

In short, Google Home is an extremely versatile device that can be used in a number of different ways. Whether you’re looking for a way to stay organized, want to listen to your favorite tunes, or just want a hands-free way to get the news, Google Home is a great choice.

Can You Ask Google Home To Call 911?

One of the most important features of any voice assistant for seniors is the ability to contact 911 for an emergency call.

Google home can call 911 but you need an additional external device to do that – it’s called Ooma Telo. This allows the Google home user to call 911 simply by asking their Google home device to do so.

Did you know that Amazon’s Echo devices can pair with some Google Nest video doorbells (read about that here)? Video doorbells help you stay safer because you can see who is at the door and can respond without opening the door to a stranger.

Best Google Home Voice Assistant Services For Seniors

Reminders

A great feature for anyone (but especially for seniors) is setting up Google Home to notify and remind you of events on your calendar or just daily events such as medication reminders, when a TV show is on, doctor’s appointments, etc.

This feature works well for adults who are dealing with some cognitive decline issues such as mild dementia.

 

How To Use Google Home For Reminders and Notifications

  • If you’ve scheduled a reminder for a specific time then it will just automatically alert you at that time.
  • Otherwise, you can simply give the simple command: “Ok Google, what’s up?” or “Ok Google, what are my reminders?”

Note: Alexa’s reminder will start with something like “I’m reminding you to take your heart medication.” BUT – Google Home will only alert you that there’s a reminder but not state exactly what that reminder is. You have to follow up by asking “What is my reminder?”

How To Set Up Google Home For Reminders and Notifications

  • To set up reminders simply say “Hey Google, remind me to take my medicine every day at 2 pm.”

Routines

I love the routines feature on both devices. Essentially, this allows you to set up a series of events that are triggered by one command.

A morning command that I have set up on my Google Home goes like this…

1) I say “Hey Google, good morning.”

2) She responds by telling me what the weather will be today, what I have on my calendar for the day and then plays my favorite style of music.

Check out this video on other ways that you can use Google Home routines to make life just a little easier!

Ordering Food

Although you can order food from a Google Home devices, it’s not as easy as it is on Amazon’s Alexa. You have to use a 3rd party program like FoodMonkey or if a restaurant like Domino’s Pizza has partnered with Google Home.

This is a great service if your senior has mobility issues and just finds it difficult to get out for a restaurant meal.

Ordering an Uber

Yes, you can ask your Google Home device to order and Uber ride but you can’t complete the process on Google Home. Instead, it sends the information to your phone to complete the transaction.

Reminders To Remember Things

Basically, you can store information in your Google Home, which is pretty cool. So, you can say things like…

  • “OK, Google, remember that I put my passport in the filing cabinet” or “Remember that my password is ‘money’.”
  • Recall remembered things: “OK, Google, where is my passport?” or “What is my password?”

Phone Calls

You can make phone calls on Google Home to any phone number in the USA, Canada and Mexico – which is very much like having a voice activated speaker phone at your disposal.

And like Alexa, as long as you have the person you want to call on your Google Contacts list then you can simply say… “Hey Google, call John Smith.” She may ask you which phone number (if you have multiple phone numbers listed) but once that decision is made the call will go through.

Virtual Calls

The Google Nest product is very similar to Amazon’s Echo Show. Basically, this is a Google Home with a small video screen. With this, you can make a video call to friends and family as long as they have either a Nest Hub or Nest Hub Max in their own homes. Or if they have the Google Duo app installed on their phone.

Smart displays are a newer product category and one that is becoming more popular. If you’re interested in getting one for your senior, the Google Nest Hub is a great option to consider.

Both of these two features, phone calls and virtual calls can certainly help to break the social isolation that many seniors experience. And that’s a really good thing.

Smart Thermostats

The Nest Thermostat is a great smart thermostat. I know, I just installed it in my own home! I love it’s simplicity and that I can control it from my app on my smartphone.

911 Emergency Calls

And again, like Alexa, you can also call 911 but you need an external product to do that. For Google, it’s the Ooma Telo. Once it’s all set up you simply say…

“Hey Google, ask Ooma to call 911.”

You do need to know that there is a service cost for the Ooma service, it’s very small, less than $10.00 a month as of 2019.

Ask My Buddy

Just like Alexa, the Google Home device can be set up to use the Ask My Buddy system. It’s a great feature for seniors. It gives your voice activated device the ability to set up someone as your “buddy” so that in case you need help you can ask Google Home to contact them immediately. This can alert several people that you assign to the Ask My Buddy program.

The Ask My Buddy program is free for if you register 5 contacts or less on your list and if you use it 10 times or less in a 30 day period.

Once you register – you can then set it up on your Google Home app. Click here for the PDF on how to set it up for Google Home.

Home Security

Although Google Home is not a security device per se – it can be used as one when it’s paired with Google Nest devices such as the Nest doorbell, Nest Detect and the Nest Secure Alarm System.

You can even set up motion sensors that connects to your Google Home! And yes, smart locks can also work well with Google Home.

Google Home vs. Alexa For Seniors

1. Appearances

Google HomeAlexa
Comes in a variety of colors and styles.Has 5 color versions of it’s Amazon Echo
Google Home 5.62 inches tallAmazon Echo is 5.9 inches tall
Google Home Mini is round and is 1.65 inches tallAmazon Echo plus is 9.3 inches tall
Google Home Max is rectangular and about 7.4 inches tallAmazon Echo Dot is round and is 1.3 inches tall
Google Nest Hub has a 7 inch visual displayAmazon Echo Spot is round with a 2.5 inch visual display
Google Next Hub Max has a 10 inch visual displayAmazon Echo Show is rectangular with a 7.4 inch visual display
Amazon Echo Buttons can control routines and trigger voice responses

2. Functions

Google HomeAlexa
Can shop online from Google ExpressCan shop, track packages and get notifications of deliveries from Amazon
Can listen to music on GoogleCan listen to music from Amazon Music
Google Home Mini is round and is 1.65 inches tallAmazon Echo plus is 9.3 inches tall
Google Home Max is rectangular and about 7.4 inches tallAmazon Echo Dot is round and is 1.3 inches tall
Google Nest Hub has a 7 inch visual displayAmazon Echo Spot is round with a 2.5 inch visual display
Google Next Hub Max has a 10 inch visual displayAmazon Echo Show is rectangular with a 7.4 inch visual display
Set a timer or series of timers.Amazon Echo can also set a timer or series of timers.

Alexa vs. Google Nest Mini: Which Is Better?

There are some differences between the Google Nest Mini and Alexa. Choosing which one to use really just depends on what you want in your smart device.

So, let’s go over some the specifics of each one of these units.

Price: Both are about the same price, depending on where you purchase it and if it’s on sale or not.

Sound: Echo Dot as an advanced Bluetooth audio support, voice control as well as a 3.5mm audio jack. Whereas the Google Next Mini has a 1.57 inch speaker, no audio jack. In our opinion, the Amazon Alexa device has a better sound.

Weight: The Alexa device is about 12 ounces and the Google Nest Mini weighs less at 6.4 ounces. Since neither is meant to be carried around, we don’t think it really matters what they weight.

Volume Control: Both have manual touch controls for volume.

Microphone: Alexa dot has 4 far-field microphone array and the Google Nest Mini has 3 far-field microphones. Basically, Alexa can hear you better.

Ease of use: Both are very easy to use and to set up. Most of the process can be done via voice commands.

So, in conclusion, we think the Amazon Alexa is a better device for seniors. It’s easier to hear, has more features, and is generally more user-friendly.

Does Google Home Have Drop Ins?

Amazon’s Echo (Alexa) device has a feature called Drop In which allows the user call another Alexa device as an audio and/or visual (sort of like Skype). This can be calls to friends and family or even a call to another Alexa device within your own home (like an intercom system!).

Although both Google Home and Alexa have phone call features – the Google Home product does not have this Drop In feature.

The One Advantage Google Home Has Over Amazon’s Alexa

I personally own a Google Home device and an Amazon Echo Dot device. I use them each and every single day for a variety of purposes.

They both do many of the same things but the one single advantage that I see that Google Home has over Amazon’s Alexa is that Google Home is connected to the Google search engine.

Which means that when I ask Alexa a question – it doesn’t always have an answer or the right answer. In fact, I would say that about 25% of the time, it can’t give me the answer I’m looking for.

But when I ask Google Home the very same question – I get an answer 99.9% of the time and I would say that 95% of the time it’s exactly the answer I’m searching for.

The reason for this is because Amazon’s Alexa uses the Bing search engine whereas Google Home, of course, uses the ever so mighty Google search engine. And we all know, that Google’s database of information is much larger than any other search engine. And their technology is much more sophisticated which means they are able to give you the best answers to your questions possible.

So, if you will be using this voice device for answers to questions (which would be great for homework or research, etc.) then I would say to choose the Google Home product.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can Google Home Read and Send Text Messages?

Yes, Google Home can read and send a text message with the help of the Google Assistant and a third party program called IFTTT. You can find the instructions here on IFTTT.com.

Do I Need A Google Account To Use Google Home?

Yes, you do need a Google account to use Google Home. And you want to have a Gmail account set up under your Google account as well.

Can Google Home Send Smartphone Alerts?

Absolutely yes! You can get alerts from Google Nest, products and account updates, etc.
You can also set up personalized routines so that your Google Home can give you a heads up on traffic, the weather, and more. Check out the Google Home app to get started.

Will I Need Help With The Initial Setup Of Google Home?

You might, it just depends on how tech savvy you are. I always recommend to my older friends and relatives to ask a younger person to come help.

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