While no new hardware was announced at the virtual event the biggest news for automation fans was the expansion of presence-based routines, a much-needed feature.

The Google Assistant event was a very global affair which came as no surprise as the event was largely targeted at partners and device manufacturers and so generally the announcements were quite underwhelming and very industry-specific. Some of the features announced:

  • Expanded Routines. This was probably the most important announcement from the event for us. This will allow for the detection of your presence in the home and will allow partners and more importantly consumers to build routines based on presence. Currently users can only build presence-based automation if they had a Nest device. Non-Nest device can only build routines based on time, or location. Location is slightly different to presence as location automation is pretty blunt (it can’t differentiate what room you’re in). Presence-based routines can be triggered when you are away or arrive home without having to activate the Assistant. With this announcement other manufacturers will be able to build in the same automation with just the Google Assistant.
  • Smart Home for Entertainment Device (SHED) support with Google Assistant. If you haven’t heard of SHED, don’t worry, not many consumers have. Google’s API set that allows 3rd party partners and device builders to build Google Assistant actions into their devices jsut went public .
  • Android 11 smarthome integration This has been teased in many places but was great to see it reinforced that Android 11 (now in beta) will come integrated with smarthome controls more prominently integrated in the notifications and power menu of the mobile OS. .
  • Improving linking. ‘AppFlip’ will allow for a much seamless signup process for customers of non-Google smarthome devices and services. It allows for a a simple 2 step process “by flipping users from the Google Home App to the Partner app without requiring an additional sign-in.”

Looking forward to seeing these new features on devices and in the wild.

For now, Automate On!