In September, the home app lost the ability to trigger assistant routines. Google Home 2.31 has reinstated its capabilities today, but with a major overhaul of media controls.
Update 11/20: With a small tweak in the lighting pane introduced in March, you can see that Google switches from the on / off button for all rooms to a switch that actually reflects the current state. Under each group, the home app now records the number of devices controlled.
This change reduces screen congestion, but reduces the touch target. You can also accentuate the central “all” switch using off / on at the top. Previously, users could have been confused with individual items.
The sheet is only visible if there are multiple lights. If only one device is available, the user goes directly to the view of the entire controller. Google Home 2.31 is widely deployed on Android and iOS.
Original 11/17: A few weeks ago, Google published a new full-screen routine page that opened after tapping the purple shortcut at the top of the home app. You can view and customize “personal routines”, you can create new routines, but you can’t do anything else.
Version 2.31 today adds a play button to the right of all the routines listed. At the bottom of the list is Start Your Routines On, which allows the user to select “Default Speaker for Routines with Actions Performed on Speakers”.
The default is “this device”, the smartphone, which lists all smart displays, speakers and pairs. Google Home remembers your last selection to speed up your call.
The next release of this release is a complete redesign of the Google Home app’s media controls. Instead of a tall card carousel, there is a list of what is being played. The scrubber, play / pause, rewind / fast forward, and volume are displayed first, and there is always a list of “playing” where you can voluntarily create speaker groups. This is a much more efficient UI for media control.
Elsewhere, the Wi-Fi settings in Google Home 2.31 add a new Priority Activity menu that includes games / Stadia. The fact that this is a menu, not just a toggle, suggests that Google may add more device prioritization options in the future.
Version 2.31 of the Google Home app is now available on the Play Store.
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