On our most recent IoT Podcast, Ted reached out to us via email and asked about email addresses for smart homes. He’s wondering if his Google-based home should have its own email address for linking to smart home hubs, speakers, and devices. This is an option that most people aren’t aware of and it can work, provided you understand some of the caveats.
Stacey used this type of setup in the past by creating an email address for her smart home and using that Google account as the central “administrator” of the home. This way, there’s one central account to manage the home and each family member is invited as a smart home user.
It does work, but you need to consider the following, based on her experience.
For starters, this won’t work with a Google Workspaces account, which is the paid Google account option offering custom domains, more storage space, and other work-friendly features. Using a Google Workspaces email for smart home setup does not allow inviting people to your Google Home account.
If that’s not an issue because you use a free Google account, you’re good to proceed. However, if some family members don’t have the Google Home mobile app installed or don’t allow Google to share their personal information such as calendar events and train Google to recognize their voice, things can get tricky.
Those family members won’t be able to ask a Google smart speaker or a display for their next event, for example. That’s likely a non-issue for them; if they wanted that, they would have enabled personal data when joining the home. And if they do, they’ll need to train the smart home to recognize their voice using the Voice Match training feature for Google Home.
Here’s the tricky bit in this case. If those family members who don’t enable data access to Google Home later decide to add a reminder or some item to a list, they won’t actually be able to access those. Instead, those data points will be “attached” to the Google account of the home, and not a particular person.
The same applies to any reminders for these family members: Without attaching their personal account to the home, there’s no way to have the reminder be linked to them specifically. The smart home experience can quickly get confusing in these cases.
On the plus side, having a centralized smart home account for the house allows family members to share one streaming account. If you go this route, just remember to sign up for those streaming accounts with the home’s email address.
Since everyone has their own personal preferences for their smart home, there’s no clear-cut “yes” or “no” answer to Ted’s question. My advice would be to consider the pros and cons by having a discussion with the family so they understand potential limitations.
Based on that conversation, you can then make the decision that’s best for you. And remember to provide yourself full device management rights with your own personal account. If you skip that step, you’ll have to log in to the home’s account for device management going forward.
To hear Ted’s question in full, as well as our discussion on the topic, tune in to the IoT Podcast below.