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How to turn an old phone into a Google Home


Smartphones have been coming out at a rapid pace for over a decade now. You’ve probably upgraded from a perfectly fine phone for something shiny and new in that time. So what do you do with the old device? Unless you sell everything when you’re done, there’s a good chance you have a capable old phone lying around. We’ve shown you things to do with old phones before, but now we have something new.

Google Home is a pretty cool device, but it’s really just a speaker with Google Assistant built-in. The same Google Assistant that is available on Android phones. You probably already have a device with Google Assistant (or the old Google voice search) built-in. Why not save $130 and just plug your old phone into a speaker of your own? It’s really that easy.

What You Will Need

To replicate Google Home as best we can, you will need a phone that supports Google Assistant. It’s currently available on Marshmallow and Nougat devices with Google Play Services. The device will also need at least 1.5GB of memory and a 720p display. If your old device is really old, it might not meet those requirements. In that case, you may be able to use the old Google voice search.

The next thing you’ll need is a speaker. Any speaker will do (Bluetooth or wired) as long as it can stay powered on when plugged in. Some speakers will automatically turn off after extended inactivity. You want your speaker and phone to be able to listen and speak back at any time. Something like this cheap $35 speaker will work.

How to Set Up

The most important thing we need to do is make sure Google is listening at all times. Yes, that does sound creepy, but that’s how these home assistant speakers work.

  1. Make sure the Google app is up to date
  2. Open the Google app
  3. Go to Settings > Voice
  4. Select “Ok Google” Detection
  5. Follow the instructions to train your voice model
  6. Enable Say “Ok Google” any time
  7. Go back and select Hands-free
  8. Enable For Bluetooth devices and For wired headsets
  9. Go back and make sure Speach output it On

Next, we’ll make sure Google Assistant is properly set up.

  1. Go back to the Google app settings
  2. Select Settings under Google Assistant
  3. Select Phone
  4. Make sure Google Assistant is enabled
  5. Under Preferred input, make sure Voice is selected

The Google Assistant Settings is also where you can add smart home devices and customize a bunch of other stuff you might want to ask about.

Put it all together

Now that we have all the necessary components, we can assemble our Google Homebrew. Connect your phone to the speaker via Bluetooth or auxiliary cable. A wired connection is probably better for this situation. Both the phone and speaker will need to be plugged in at all times. Make sure the auto-off feature is disabled on the speaker.

You’re ready to say “Ok Google.” Any command that would work with Google Home should work with your hacky set-up. Not everything will work perfectly, though. Some things will require action on the phone. If that’s something you don’t mind, this is a pretty easy way to make your own Google Home. If you find that this is really handy, you can go out and buy a real one.

Joe Fedewa
Ever since I flipped open my first phone I've been obsessed with the devices. I've dabbled in other platforms, but Android is where I feel most at home.

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