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If you’re thinking about starting a smart home, the first decision is which ecosystem to base it around. One of the most popular choices (and my go-to choice) is Google Home. But, what are the costs involved, and is there a monthly fee for Google Home?
No, there are no ongoing monthly fees for using Google Home. Other than the initial cost of buying a smart speaker or display which varies from £49 to £219, there are no further costs to use Google Home, Google Assistant, Nest Speakers, or Chromecast.
In the rest of this article, I’ll break down the main parts of Google’s smart home ecosystem and what you can and can’t do for free.
- What Are Google Home, Google Assistant, and Google Nest?
- Is There a Monthly Fee For Google Home?
- Are There Any Premium Features?
- Is Google Assistant Free?
- How Much is a Google Nest Speaker? (Formerly Google Home Speakers)
- Can I Play Music for Free on Google Nest Speakers?
- Is there a Monthly Fee for Chromecast?
What Are Google Home, Google Assistant, and Google Nest?
Before I jump into the nitty-gritty of the article, it’s worth just clearing up a few terms that relate to Google’s smart home ecosystem as many of them are used interchangeably and some are a bit confusing (no thanks to Google):
- Google Home – This is the main smart home app. It’s where you can set up and manage your smart devices within Google’s ecosystem and also where you can set up routines to automate them. When a smart home device says it ‘Works with Google Home’, it means it can be controlled via this app.
- Google Assistant – This is Google’s voice assistant, their equivalent to Alexa. She can be accessed from any Android phone and is built-in to Google’s smart speakers and displays.
- Google Nest (formerly Google Home Speakers) – Google Nest is their actual hardware. Right now, the lineup consists of smart speakers and smart displays, they can be added to Google Home and have Google Assistant built-in. If you’re starting a smart home with Google, you’ll want to have one of these to issue voice commands. Keep reading for a breakdown of the different devices available.
Is There a Monthly Fee For Google Home?
So, now that we know the main components of Google’s smart home ecosystem, what are the costs involved?
The good thing is that there are no ongoing costs to use Google Home other than buying the initial devices. Once you have a smart speaker or display, you can access Google Assistant and other features of Google Home for free forever.
Here are all the things you can do for free with Google Home:
- Speak to Google Assistant – Google Assistant is the assistant that lives in your phone and speakers. She can manage your calendar, update you on the news, browse the internet to answer your questions, and much more.
- Control Your Smart Home – You can connect your Google Home-compatible devices to the Google Home app and manage them all in one place.
- Routines – Use Google Home routines to automate your life, for example, when sensor A detects motion, light A comes on.
- Voice and Video Calls – Call anyone with a Google smart speaker/display, or a mobile phone that has Google Duo installed.
- Broadcast Messages – Have all your speakers and displays broadcast a message for you
- Listen to Radio and Podcasts.
- Ad-Supported Music Streaming – See below for more details on free music streaming options for Google Nest/Home Speakers.
- Ad-supported Video Streaming on Nest Hub – Watch YouTube on Nest Hub smart displays using just your voice.
Are There Any Premium Features?
No, there is no premium Google Home subscription, however, there are other subscriptions that can enhance your experience using Google Home. Here are a few examples:
This will allow you to listen to any song using your Nest speaker with unlimited skips and no adverts. If you have a Nest hub display, you’ll also have access to YouTube without ads.
Other Music Streaming Services
Aside from YouTube, if you have other services such as Spotify Premium, Deezer, or Apple Music, you can listen to these using just voice commands through your Google Nest speakers.
Other Video Streaming Services
A subscription to premium video streaming services such as Netflix and Disney+ will allow you to watch their content on your Nest Hub smart display or Chromecast.
Is Google Assistant Free?
Yes, Google Assistant is 100% free to use via a Nest speaker/display, an Android smartphone, or other devices that are certified with Google Assistant Built-In.
Unlike Alexa Skills, app creators cannot charge for Google Assistant apps, however, sometimes you need a premium subscription to access content through Google Assistant such as music and video streaming.
How Much is a Google Nest Speaker? (Formerly Google Home Speakers)
The price of a Google Nest speaker varies between £49 to £219. They are available on the Google Store although there are often deals and bundles available if you purchase through Currys in the UK. A few of the smart displays are also available on Amazon, although this is more limited.
Here is a brief rundown of the current Google Nest speaker and smart display lineup:
This is the standard smart speaker from Google. It’s 175mm tall and provides a crisp sound. It has a very sensitive array of speakers that can hear you from anywhere in the room.
I have an older version of the speaker (when it was called the Google Home speaker) and happily use it for general music listening every day. It also has Bluetooth.
RRP: £89.99 – View on Currys
Nest Mini (2nd Gen)
This is a smaller version of the Nest Audio. It has all the same smart features but a smaller speaker inside.
This is more for issuing voice commands but the speaker isn’t particularly loud or crisp so it’s not ideal for everyday music listening. It also has Bluetooth.
RRP: £49.99 – View on Currys
Nest Hub 2nd Gen
This is Google’s main smart display. Think of it like the Nest Audio speaker but with a 7” touchscreen display attached to the front.
RRP: £89.99 – View on Currys
Nest Hub Max
This is a larger smart display that has a 10” display and a better speaker inside with a dedicated woofer for bass. It also has a camera for making video calls.
RRP: £219 – View on Currys
Comparison of Features:
|Nest Audio||Nest Mini||Nest Hub||Nest Hub Max|
|Speaker||75mm woofer and 19mm tweeter||360-degree sound with 40mm driver||1.7-inch full-range driver||Two 0.7-inch tweeters, 3-inch woofer|
Can I Play Music for Free on Google Nest Speakers?
Yes, it’s possible to listen to music for free on Google Nest speakers if you don’t have a subscription to a music streaming service such as Spotify Premium or YouTube Premium, however, you will be more limited in terms of what you can do.
You’ll be able to listen to podcasts and radio stations for free, but when it comes to music streaming you will be limited to playlists on shuffle with a strict number of skips per hour.
Alternative ways to listen to music for free on Google Home or Nest speakers are Soundcloud, Mixcloud, and BBC Sounds.
Is there a Monthly Fee for Chromecast?
A big draw to Google’s ecosystem is the entertainment element, something that they excel at compared to Amazon’s offering.
This all centres around casting (also known as Chromecasting since it originated from the Chromecast).
Casting allows you to easily send media from one device to another over your home WI-Fi network. For example, you can bring up a YouTube video on your phone, and halfway through you could decide to watch the rest on your living room TV, this is easily achieved by tapping the cast icon.
You can cast to any device that has a Chromecast plugged in the back or there are now many TVs and speakers with Chromecast built-in.
This sounds like a great idea, but is there a fee for using Chromecast?
No, there’s no fee for using Chromecast. Once you have purchased a Chromecast, you can cast audio, video, and photos from one device to another for free. However, if you are casting content from premium streaming services such as Netflix or Amazon Prime, you’ll need the relevant subscription.
The same applies to any devices with Chromecast built-in.