How to set up and make the most out of your Google Home Assistant in South Africa [Applicable for the Google Home, Mini and Max – 2018]

With the craze for smart speakers slowly spreading to other international countries and most people jumping the gun to get their hands on one of these smart devices before their countries official release date, how can one (in this case in South Africa) make the most out of their Google Home smart speaker?

This article will cover the setup of the Google Home Assistants in a non-official country as well as some uses and problems one may stumble across in the setup and usage processes.

Table of Contents

Initial setup
Other options and features
Negatives of the Google Devices
Is a Google Home Smart Speakers a good investment?

Initial Setup

  1. Ensure that your Google Home Assistant device is plugged in and turned on.
    (The Google Home Assistants/speakers do not have power buttons and are on when the top four lights on the assistant are displayed).
  2. Download the Google Home application onto your iOS or Android device.
  3. Login to your preferred Google account (the Google Home will personalise your experience based on the account you select).
  4. Make sure your Google Home smart speaker and mobile device are connected to the same WiFi and turn your mobile devices Bluetooth on (turning on Bluetooth is a backup incase the WiFi connection is unstable or not working).
  5. The Google Home application should now pick up your Google Home Assistant and prompt you to set the smart speaker up.
    (If this option is not present, click on top right icon to access all connected Smart Devices within your range and on your WiFi network. You should be able to add the device here.)
  6. Once in the setup interface, the Google Home app should take you through a series of sound tests and smart speaker questions.
  7. It is very important that you set up the correct location for your devices to receive relevant results and answers.
  8. Once all the questions are complete your Google Home device will connect and your setup should be complete!

Other options and features

Adding new accounts –

Simply click on the burger icon (the three horizontal lines) on the top left of the Google Home application. You should see a drop-down arrow next to your login details, once clicked there should be an option to manage accounts and within that menu you may add and remove accounts.

Charging and power –

The Google Home smart speakers need to be plugged in to operate. There is no power button, only a microphone mute switch (with exception to the Google Home Max which can be turned on and off).

Power Specficications:

Google Home Assistant
  • DC power jack
  • Micro-USB port (for service only)
  • Required 16.5V, 2A included
  • USB Type-C and USB-C
  • 3.5 mm jack with analog audio input
  • AC Power 100-240 V, 50/60 Hz
  • Micro USB port
  • Required 5V, 1.8A
  • 15W power adapter (1.5m in length)
  • Connects via a DC power jack

Which Applications can I download for my Google Device? –

At this point in time, there are only a few compatible applications with the Google devices in which you can use your voice to navigate or operate. Majority of the apps are catered to American crowds and are not very usable in South Africa though.

But there is hope!

A nifty feature called Airplay really does save the day for us non-Americans. Airplay is a feature used to stream audio and media files through your WiFi network or Bluetooth connection to your smart device. Luckily, most applications these days tend to have Airplay.

View a full list of the compatible Google Applications here

South African & International radio stations –

Radio.net, TuneIn and Simple Radio are three of the better applications when wanting to stream a radio station through your Google Home device.

The main problem users encountered when using voice commands for Radio.net is that the Google Devices tend to recognise the phrase ‘Play X on Radio.net’ as you trying to play the requested radio station on Google Play. This is currently an unsolved problem by Google but is sure to be fixed once officially released in South Africa and other countries.

Radio.net and Simple Radio are still great apps though and have a larger variety of stations than most other radio applications, but using these radio stations through your smart speaker requires you to open the app itself and airplay the radio station to your Google smart speaker.
*see illustration below for airplay example in the Radio.net app

Bluetooth –

An almost forgotten technology these days.

Yes! Bluetooth works perfectly well with any smart speaker devices and can be used to direct stream almost all audio on your mobile device and with certain music playing applications on your smartphone.

I still can not connect to my Google Home Assistant –

One of the main problems users seem to encounter when trying to connect to a device is that they may already have an account linked to it.

Unlinking an account properly:

  1. Once the Google Home App is open navigate to the burger icon (three horizontal lines) on the top left of the application.
  2. Click on the menu tab called ‘More settings’.
  3. Then navigate to the ‘Devices’ section which should contain your connected device; click on the device you are looking to unlink.
  4. At the bottom of the new menu, there is an option which says ‘Unlink this device’. Once clicked your account should be unlinked.

Negatives of the Google Devices

As great as these speakers are, they are limited in a few aspects as they are unfortunately not very fine-tuned for the South African consumer.

Luckily there are a few apps and features which users have made to make the ‘South African smart speaker experience’ a bit more up to standard with the proper American experience. They are suitable fixes but add the extra step here and there to make things a bit less convenient.

In most cases, you will need to ask your smart assistant to open the application before using it. Which isn’t that much of a hassle, but does take away from the ease of using one of these smart speakers.

Account integration and location-based features are actually set up for South African users, with the majority of the problem application being American based with almost no/little integration with popular South African applications.

Is a Google Home Smart Speaker a good investment?

Overall, yes, we think that the Google Home and smart speaker range is actually quite decent – especially for South Africans (at least for the time being). With technology growing at such a rapid rate, smart speakers will inevitably become the center of any smart home/household.

With companies like Google and Amazon racing to be first into all the markets, full feature access to local and other apps will eventually become available as popularity grows for these handy little speakers.

Did I miss anything? Feel free to email us with any questions, enquiries or feedback about our devices.