Google Home: Listen to radio, podcasts and music

The Google Home range of smart speakers offer a new way of listening to live radio, podcasts and streaming music.

Using voice commands you can ask Google Home to play the audio you’d like to hear. We’ve provided some examples below to help you get started. Each command needs to start with “OK Google” or “Hey Google”.

Google currently offers four Google Home devices – the Home Hub, Home Mini, Home Max and the mid-range Home. Prices start at £49 for the Mini and go up to £399 for the Max, but there are often great deals to be found on these devices.

As there’s no buttons or display on the speaker, other than a microphone mute switch and four lights, the setup is completed with the Android or iOS app. The setup process is fairly straightforward. The longest part of the setup is waiting for it to connect to WiFi and update the built-in software.

Listen to live radio with a Google Home speaker

You can listen to live radio stations with any Google Home speaker. There’s no need to install any apps as TuneIn is pre-installed.

As long as you know the name of the station you can ask it to start playing. Try these commands, and replace “BBC World Service” with the name of the station you’d like to listen to.

OK Google, play BBC World Service

OK Google, play Magic Soul

If you didn’t get the station you wanted you can ask again while a station is playing. For example, if you asked for “Radio 1” and Google started playing BBC Radio 1 you can ask again without stopping first.

OK Google, play RTE Radio 1

You can stop the radio station with a command too.

OK Google, stop

If you want to know the name of a song you can ask the Google Home device too – but it doesn’t work for every station.

OK Google, what’s this song

Changing the volume

Volume is also adjusted by asking the speaker to change it up or down.

OK Google, turn it down

Volume can be set on a scale too.

OK Google, set volume to 3

Play international radio stations

As we saw with RTE Radio 1, Google Home will play radio stations from other countries.

OK Google, play France Inter

When asking for international stations you can give the name with the English pronunciation.

OK Google, play SWR3

Sometimes a station isn’t available, and you’ll hear an error message from TuneIn.

Choosing local radio stations

By default the speaker might not play your local station if there’s a national version.

OK Google, play Capital FM

You can ask again for your local version by being more specific.

OK Google, play Capital FM Liverpool

A Google Home Mini smart speaker responding to a request
A Google Home Mini smart speaker responding to a request

Play podcasts with a Google Home speaker

Listening to podcasts is possible too. You don’t need a podcast app or to have subscribed to a podcast somewhere.

Start by asking for a podcast by name. It does help to add the word podcast at the end, or the speaker will sometimes choose a music playlist instead.

OK Google, play the Test Match Special podcast

You can pause and stop a podcast too. You can also ask Google something during a podcast and it’ll pause it until it’s answered.

OK Google, when is the next bus to Durham?

If you started listening to a podcast previously it’ll continue where you left off.

Podcasts can be navigated in a similar way to using a podcast app. During a podcast you can ask to skip forward in an episode, or start playing the next episode.

OK Google, skip ahead by five minutes

OK Google, next episode

If you’ve already heard the latest episode and ask for the next one you’ll hear a message that there are no more episodes. You’ll need to ask for the previous episode of a podcast. When you listen to the latest podcast it’s like being at the end of a playlist of podcast episodes.

Streaming music

Streaming music is possible with Spotify and other streaming services.

If you ask for an artist in your Google Play music library the speaker will begin streaming it.

OK Google, play Taylor Swift

You can ask for a song title too, but the playback will stop at the end of the song

OK Google, play Reelin’ in the Years

If you don’t have a streaming service subscription and the music isn’t in your library Google Home will start a playlist on YouTube music. When using the free service you might not hear songs by the artist you requested – but similar music instead. You might hear ads between the songs.

It’s possible to ask for a genre of music too.

OK Google, play disco music

Cast audio to a Google Home speaker

There are some things which can’t be played on Google Home when using voice commands. The Google Home speaker does appear as a device in apps which support Chromecast.

This means you can cast a programme from BBC iPlayer Radio, but not yet BBC Sounds.

Find the programme to listen to and start it playing. Tap the cast button in the top right and choose the speaker. Once it starts playing you can use voice commands to pause the programme and adjust the volume.

OK Google, pause

Using the cast feature is useful if you have a music library in something like Plex. Using the Plex app you can still take advantage of the speaker and some voice controls when playback has started.

OK Google, what’s playing

Apps like Radioplayer and Pocket Casts are also Chromecast enabled.

Use as a Bluetooth speaker

For apps that aren’t Google Chromecast enabled you can enable Bluetooth on the speaker.

In the Google Home app find the speaker to use and under settings choose ‘Paired Bluetooth devices’. Then tap Enable Pairing Mode. On your mobile device you’ll need to ensure Bluetooth is enabled and then select the speaker to pair.

Once your mobile device is paired with the speaker you can play radio stations, music and podcasts from any app.