How to configure geofencing for Google

If you’re ready to upgrade your smart home, it’s time to think about geofencing. It refers to smart routines that program devices to act in certain ways, based on your location. For example, you can set a geofencing action for your address so that when your phone is detected returning to your docile, your front door smart lock will unlock.

Geofencing can be very useful in the right homes, and Google makes it easy with features like Home and Away routines that are right on the Google Home app. Let’s see how they work, how to set them up correctly, and everything you need to know.

How to Use Home and Away Routines with Google

For an away routine to work, you need to install and set up the Google Home app before you start. It is a free download and available on many platforms including Android and iOS. If you have the Google Home app, check that it’s been updated and ready for a new routine.

Step 1: Make sure you have compatible smart devices. You will absolutely want the devices to be declared compatible with Google Home/Google Assistant. This includes all Nest devices and many smart lights, smart plugs, smart locks, smart switches, and more. You have many options, with more arriving over time. If you’re buying a new smart device, look for Matter compatibility, as this will ensure it will work with Google Home and other apps if you ever decide to switch.

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

2nd step: Open the Google Home app. The home screen will offer you what you can do, and one of the options should be Set up Home and Away routines at the top. Select it to start.

Home Configure Home and Away routines.

Step 3: Google Home provides some examples of what you can set up, like turning on the lights when someone comes home or turning on Eco mode for your Nest thermostat when you leave the house. These are only suggestions, and you will see all of your available options later. Select Implement Continue.

Step 4: You will now see two sections, one for Routine at home and one for Outdoor routine. You can program them both as you wish. In the sections, your compatible and connected devices will be listed. Select one to start.

Home routine devices in the Home app.

Step 5: Depending on the device, Google Home will offer you a range of options to schedule. This feature is particularly simple with Nest devices, as Google has pre-created 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 toggling to and from Eco mode. Select Next when you’re done.

Step 6: Do the same with the Away routine. Remember that you can program multiple devices to act in different ways based on your geofencing location. When you are done, select Next.

Step 7: Google Home will now tell 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 you’re home at your address or not. For this to work you need to enable Always on location based services for application. Location services can make some people uncomfortable, and we’ll explore an alternative below, but it’s the most accurate option. Picking out Accept to continue and make any necessary setting changes.

Google Home location services.

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

This alternative, on the other hand, doesn’t need location-based activity on your phone, and it can tell when everyone is out of the house, not just you. On the downside, it’s not always as accurate (it can be triggered by pets, children, etc.) as the location services on your phone, and it can activate home routines even if you’re currently absent.

Step 9: Add your personal address. Google needs it to properly use geofencing, so it’s necessary if you’re using your phone for location tracking. To confirm your location on a map when you’re done. You should now be ready to select Finish and practice your routines.

What about other types of geofencing with Google?

The Home and Away routines are Google Home’s method of adding geolocation to your smart home. If you’re interested in more customizable geofencing options, i.e. choosing what devices do when you arrive at work, you might want to take a look at Alexa’s geofencing options, because they offer more address programming options.

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