Google Home – the phone and tablet app that controls any Google Assistant-enabled smart home kit – is a hugely important tool for anyone with Google Nest smart speakers, Philips Hue lightbulbs or a Nest-branded central heating system. Until now, Google Home has only boasted a pretty rudimentary all-or-nothing approach when it comes to access to the connected lights, heating, smart speakers, Chromecasts and Smart TVs in your home. That can be a bit of an issue.
While you might want younger family members, overnight guests or flatmates to be able to access some smart home gadgets – like switching on lights, or changing colours – you probably don’t want those same people to be able to make changes to your heating schedule, or to be able to remotely disable any security cameras you have dotted around the house ready for when you’re away on holiday.
Thankfully, that looks set to change very soon.
Google appears to be changing its Google Home app to add tiers of different access levels. Heading to the Settings menu within the Google Home app, you’ll be able to find a list of everyone with access to your smart home gadgets under the Household heading. There’s an option to add a new person, which has been there for a good while, but what’s new is the ability to tap on an individual in the list and find out what access level they have to all of the devices in your home.
Google lets you set someone to be able to “Access Details” or “Devices”. So, while you can allow someone to see that you have a Nest smart heating system …they won’t be able to drop the temperature in the living room.
The feature isn’t quite live yet. While it’s possible to see these new options in the menu, you can’t limit anyone’s access right now. Instead, Google states “everyone in this home can view all activity and access all devices and settings,”
According to code uncovered by AndroidPolice, this new menu could eventually allow you to limit someone’s access on a schedule. In a new instruction discovered by the team, Google claims: “This person will have access to the selected devices during the following schedule. Carefully review and edit before inviting.” That’s a really clever idea and means you could limit your children from being able to kill the bedroom lights during school hours.
It’s unclear when Google plans to roll out these updates. However, its annual Google IO developer conference – when the Californian company unveils new ideas, hardware or software updates to consumers and developers – is usually held in May. So, that could be a good opportunity to talk about privacy in the Google Home app.