How to set up geofencing for Google

When you’re ready to upgrade your smart home, it’s time to start thinking about geofencing. This refers to intelligent routines that program devices to behave in certain ways based on your location. For example, you could set a geofencing action on your address so that the smart lock on your front door would unlock when your phone detected it returning to you.

Geofencing can be very useful in the right homes, and Google makes it easy with features like Home and Away Routines built right into the Google Home app. Let’s discuss how they work, how to set them up properly, and everything you should know.

How to use Home and Away routines with Google

For an Away Routine to work, you should install and set up the Google Home app before you begin. It’s a free download and available on many platforms including Android and iOS. If you have the Google Home app, make sure it’s updated and ready for a new routine.

Step 1: Make sure you have compatible smart devices. They desperately want devices that are supposed to be compatible with Google Home/Google Assistant. This includes all Nest devices and many smart lights, smart sockets, smart locks, smart switches and so on. You have many choices, and more will be added over time. If you’re buying a new smart device, look out for Matter compatibility, as this will ensure it will work with Google Home and other apps if you decide to switch one day.

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The smart devices you want to use should be set up and connected to Google Home before beginning these steps.

Step 2: Open the Google Home app. The home screen suggests what you can do and one of the options should be Set up routines for at home and away above. Select it to start.

Step 3: Google Home offers a few examples of what you can set up, such as: For example, turning on the lights when someone comes home or putting your Nest thermostat on Eco mode when you leave the house. These are just suggestions and you will see all available options later. Choose configuration keep going.

Step 4: Now you will see two sections, one for everyday life at home and one for routine away. You can program both of them however you like. The sections list your compatible, connected devices. Pick one to get started.

Home routine devices in the Home app.

Step 5: Depending on the device, Google Home gives you a number of programming options. This feature is particularly easy on Nest devices as Google has pre-built geofencing suggestions, but it’s a simple system to use with any compatible device. Choose how you want the device to behave, like a thermostat switching in and out of Eco mode. Choose Next when you’re done

Step 6: Do the same with the away routine. Keep in mind that you can program multiple devices to respond in different ways based on your geofencing location. When you’re done, select Next.

Step 7: Google Home will now inform you about presence detection and ask if you want to use your phone’s location for presence detection. That’s how geofencing works – it uses your phone’s location to decide whether or not you’re home at your address. For this to work you need to turn it on Always on location-based services for the app. Location services can be uncomfortable for some people and we’ll explore an alternative below, but it’s the most accurate option. Choose Agree to continue and make any necessary setting changes.

Google Home Location Services.

Step 8: Google will now ask you if you want to activate additional devices in your home with presence detection. Home defaults to this alternative if you don’t want to use location services. The catch is that you need a device with presence detection technology that can detect whether people are moving around the house or not. Nest Thermostats and Nest Protect have this technology along with the Nest Hubs, so you’ll need one of them to enable this option.

On the other hand, this alternative doesn’t require any location-based activity on your phone and can detect when everyone is out, not just you. On the downside, it’s not always as accurate (it can be triggered by pets, kids, etc.) as location services on your phone, and it can activate home routines even when you’re not there.

Step 9: Add your home address. Google needs this to use geofencing properly, so it’s required if you use your phone for location tracking. Confirm Your location on a map when you’re done. Now you should be ready to choose Finished and put your routines into practice.

What about other types of geofencing with Google?

The Home and Away routines are Google Home’s method of adding geofencing to your smart home. If you’re interested in more customizable geofencing options – ie choosing what devices do when you get to work – check out Alexa’s geofencing options as they offer more address programming options.

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