How to Fake a Sleep Timer on Google Home

UPDATE (October 17, 2017): Google Home, nearly a year after its initial release, finally has a real sleep timer! Some readers have speculated that this popular post that you’re viewing right here somehow “shamed” Google into final action on this. I wouldn’t go that far. But I’ll admit that it’s somewhat difficult to stop chuckling a bit right now. In any case, thanks to the Home team!

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I’ve long been bitching about Google Home’s lack of a basic function that clock radios have had since at least the middle of the last century — the classic “sleep timer” for playing music until a specified time or until a specific interval has passed. I suspect my rants about this have become something of a chuckling point around Google by now.

Originally, sleep timer type commands weren’t recognized at all by GH, but eventually it started admitting that the concept at least exists.

A somewhat inconvenient but seemingly serviceable way to fake a sleep timer is now possible with Google Home. I plead guilty, it’s a hack. But here we go.

Officially, GH still responds with “Sleep timer is not yet supported” when you give commands like “Stop playing in an hour.”

BUT, a new “Night Mode” has appeared in GH firmware, at least since revision 99351 (I’m in the preview program, you may or may not have that revision yet, or it may have appeared earlier in some cases).

This new mode — in the device settings reachable through the Home app — permits you to specify a maximum volume level during specified days and hours. While the description doesn’t say this explicitly, it turns out that this affects music streams as well as announcements (except for alarms and timers). And, you can set the maximum volume for this mode to zero (or turn on the Night Mode “Do Not Disturb” setting, which appears to set the volume directly to zero).

This means that you can specify a Night Mode activation time — with volume set to minimum — when you want your fake “sleep timer” to shut down the audio. The stream will keep playing — using data of course — until the set Night Mode termination time or until you manually (e.g., by voice command) set a higher volume level (for example, in the morning). Then you can manually stop the stream if it’s still playing at that point.

Yep, a hack, but it works. And it’s the closest we’ve gotten to a real sleep timer on Google Home so far.

Feel free to contact me if you need more information about this.