How to use Google Home's built-in ambient audio to get some rest and relaxation

A new update adds ambient sounds with their own sleep timer.

google home start up
Credit: Jon Phillips

Google Home has picked some cool high-profile features over the past few weeks, including support for multiple accounts and access to millions of recipes, but a new feature that has flown in under the radar might be even more useful.

Instead of paying top dollar on a bulky white noise machine for you or your newborn baby, your Google Home can now fill your room with soothing ambient sounds. There are 15 in all, ranging from a crackling fireplace to a babbling brook. And since they’ll most often be used when you’re already tired and stressed out, Google has made it super easy to operate.

Here’s how it works. If you say, “OK Google, help me relax,” your Google Home will play a random ambient noise for the next hour (or until you tell it to stop). Alternatively, you could ask it to play it for a specified amount of time, something we’re not able to do when playing music.

You can also ask it play a different sound if the one you hear doesn’t fit your fancy, or ask for one of the specific tracks in its catalog, including:

  • Relaxing sounds
  • Nature sounds
  • Water sounds
  • Running water sounds
  • Outdoor sounds
  • Babbling brook sounds
  • Country night sounds
  • Oscillating fan sounds
  • Fireplace sounds
  • Forest sounds
  • Ocean sounds
  • Rain sounds
  • River sounds
  • Thunderstorm sounds
  • White noise

Just as it is with the random sounds, you can set a specific time limit for an individual track by saying, “OK Google, play thunderstorm sounds for 2 hours,” if heavy rain and distant rumbling happens to be your thing.

Sleep aid: Ambient noise is cool and all, but we’re most excited about the automatic shut-off timer. Now, we just want to be able to use it for our music, too. Pretty please?!

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