Turn your old mobile or tablet into a control panel for your home

Whoever has an old mobile at home has a treasure. There are countless ways to bring an old mobile back to life, transforming it into a security camera, a baby monitor, a dashboard camera… On a more mundane level, you can also transform your mobile in a kind of homemade Nest Hubto talk to the Google Assistant.

We are going to tell you several tricks to take advantage of an old Android mobile that you have at home in home control panela central place to talk to the assistant without having to buy a smart speaker, and much more.

Configure Hey Google

The main advantage of smart speakers like Google Nest is that you can communicate vocally with the assistant, without having to press any buttons or do anything special. The most recent mobiles work in the same way, being able to listen to the okay google even when the screen is off, although this probably won’t work for you if the mobile you want to reuse is old.

The first thing to do is to make sure that Hey Google and Voice Match are active on mobile. To do this, you need to open the Google app, tap on your profile picture and enter the Settings > Google Assistant > Hey Google and Voice Match.

Activate the options and, if necessary, record your voice so that Google remembers and recognizes it in the future. In the setting itself, you’re told when Google is ready to recognize your voice and whether or not it’s needed. the screen is on for me to listen to you.

If you need the screen to be on, you have two options: turn the screen on manually when you are going to use it or always leave it on, keeping the mobile charged at all times. You also have several options for this last method: ambient mode or changing the screen duration setting.

Screen on or ambient mode?

The Google Assistant Ambient Mode is a good option to breathe new life into a new mobile as a control center, as it keeps the screen on, low brightness and with the assistant ready to be used at any time. In addition, some useful information is included, such as the weather or the upcoming events you have.

If you want to opt for this option, you must open the Google application and go to the Settings > Ambient Mode. Optionally you can enable ambient mode view google photo albumswhich can be a good way to give your phone a second use as a digital photo frame, when you’re not using it to interact with Assistant.

ambient mode

If Ambient Mode isn’t too important to you, you might want to increase the time it takes for the screen to turn off, from mobile settings. Some mobiles allow you to keep it on forever, while in others there is a maximum time of around 30 minutes. In these cases, you can use apps like Caffeine to prevent the screen from turning off. You can still turn it off manually using the physical button.

Double-tap the assistant, if desired

If you don’t like the fact that your phone is always listening whether you say Hey Google or not, you have another alternative: use Nova Launcher to launch the assistant – or any other app you’re going to use – using gestures. One that can be very useful is, for example, the gesture of double tap home screen.

To configure it you must use Nova Launcher as a launcher on your mobile and go to the section gestures of your setup. There are several gestures and actions available to choose from, one of which is launching the wizard. If you plan to use your mobile as a control center based on another application, such as Google Home, you can choose to open it when you perform this gesture.


You might also be interested launch different apps with different gestures. For example, you can swipe up to open Google Home and swipe down to open the Google app, Xiaomi home automation app, or any other personal preference you have.

Home orders? Google Home to the rescue

The latest versions of Android somehow integrate home controls, but this will hardly be the case in old mobiles that you want to reuse. In this case, you will always have use the Google Home appto be able to manage them from your new mobile control panel.

The Google Home app includes a shortcut for talking to the assistant and shortcuts for routines, call home and broadcast, making it a good candidate to go fixed on his mobile. The downside is that it doesn’t display additional information, such as weather forecasts, unless you ask the assistant.

My house

Of course, remember that all devices configured in Google Home can be manipulated also via Google Assistant, although it does require you to say their name – and for the assistant to understand you – which can be a bit tricky at times. Either way, it’s highly recommended that you have Google Home installed on your mobile control panel, as it’s the closest thing to a universal home automation control app there is on Android.

Sure, if you use smart devices from other brands, like those of Samsung, Xiaomi or any other brand, then you will be interested in installing the official application to control them and see their status from your mobile. It’s often possible to link your accounts to your Google Account to appear in Google Home, but not all control options will be available.

The assistant that does not miss

Another application that cannot be missing on your mobile is the Google Assistant, which resides in the Google application. This is another candidate application to always leave visible, with the advantage that it will show you some relevant information of the day, such as weather and upcoming events. Of course, you can also use it to talk to the assistant, either because it is always listening to you or because you press the microphone button.


When the Google application is open, the mobile somehow becomes a Google Homefrom which you can play music, add tomatoes to the shopping list, see the route from home to work, potato omelette recipes and endless other things.

Don’t forget that it is possible to ask the assistant to interact with other connected devicesso you can ask it to play your favorite song on the Google Home in the living room, turn off the lights or put the latest episode of your favorite series on TV.

Buttons with action blocks

Sometimes you want to be able to perform wizard actions without having to speak, and action blocks can do that. In a way they are something like customizable widgets which is equivalent to making a specific request to Google. The potential is enormous and they can be extremely useful for setting up a series of actions that you want to perform from your old mobile.

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Some possible ideas: a button to display the shopping list, listen to music, check the weather forecast or listen to the news. Each “block” can be personalized using your own photos or icons.