Google recently rolled out an update that allows anybody to control a Bluetooth speaker with their Google Home Mini, Google Home or Google Home Max. It’s a skill you probably won’t need if you have a Google Home Max ($399), as it’s Google’s biggest speaker that already sounds pretty great. However, if you have a Google Home Mini ($49), you can now use voice commands to play music on your significantly better-sounding Bluetooth speaker, like a Bose SoundTouch 30 ($499) or Fender Monterey ($350).
This ability to stream music from a smart speaker to another Bluetooth speaker isn’t groundbreaking — Amazon’s Echo devices have been able to do it for a while. However, it opens up a lot of possibilities for those who want to listen to better audio and don’t want to populate their homes with numerous smart speakers. This new Google Home and Bluetooth speaker partnership can be used in two ways. You can either have your Bluetooth speaker take over audio duties from the Google Home speaker, or you can connect the Bluetooth speaker to an existing multiroom system with other Google Home speakers. In both instances, you still need to talk to your Google Home speaker.
No matter how you plan on pairing your Google Home device with a Bluetooth speaker, the setup process is basically the same. Make sure the Bluetooth speaker is in pairing mode. Then open the Google Home app on your phone or tablet After that follow Google’s own how-to steps. What’s nice about setting the Bluetooth speaker as your Google Home’s default speaker is it’ll automatically play out of the former; no need to say “Hey Google, play music on [name of speaker],” which can be more complicated.
The question you might still have is now that the Google Home supports multiroom audio with Bluetooth speakers, what is the point of Google’s Chromecast Audio ($35), the little puck that lets you stream music to any analog speaker with a 3.5mm jack?
Well, there’s actually a big difference. The connection with the Chromecast Audio is through your wi-fi network rather than over Bluetooth. This enables the Chromecast Audio plugin to create an audio group with your Google Home and all other speakers with Chromecast Audio or Chromeast built-in, like the Riva Festival ($500) or JBL Playlist ($150). Basically, all the speakers are playing at once. This isn’t the case with the Google Home and Bluetooth connection because the audio will only ever come out of the Bluetooth speaker. Not out of the Google Home too.
To sum up the Google Home and Bluetooth speaker control: You can’t control multiple Bluetooth speakers with one Google Home. You can’t create an audio group (or multiroom system) with just one Google Home, either, regardless of the number of Bluetooth speakers you have.
For those who already have an audio group with two Cast-enabled devices, such a Google Home and a Chromecast Audio speaker, you can add a Bluetooth speaker to that setup at the expense of a Google Home. That means you’d talk to the Google Home, but music would play out of the other two speakers. If you bought an additional Google Home Mini instead, however, you could add another Bluetooth speaker to that system for relatively cheap.
This multiroom option that’s been enabled by Google Home’s new skill set won’t be for everybody. In fact, it probably won’t be for most people. You need multiple Google Home devices and multiple Bluetooth speakers to make it work. Or you need a Google Home, a Bluetooth speaker and several Chromecast-enabled speakers — and if you’re that far along, you probably won’t need to add a Bluetooth speaker to your already high-end setup.
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