Text Messaging with Google Home

You may have recently purchased a Google Home device and are now wondering what’s next. For starters, I suggest you unlock some home automation capabilities by coupling your Google Home with SmartThings, IFTTT, and the Harmony Hub. Take a look at my previous post for insight into how to get started.

In the meantime, if you have interest in sending text messages via voice commands and your Google Home device, I have an option to consider. Out-of-the-box, Google Home does not provide the ability to send text messages. In fact, when you ask it to send a message, Google Home will reply back with “Sorry, I can’t send texts yet.” Fortunately, there is a work-around available, and it is quite simple. The video below highlights the work-around in action.

By leveraging a Google Home and IFTTT integration, I can text virtually any message to a pre-defined contact via IFTTT applets using the Google Assistant service. I chose the “Say a phrase with a text ingredient” trigger to accomplish this task. When connected with Google Home, this trigger will listen to a self-customized phrase and perform my configured IFTTT action. The phrase I asked Google Assistant to monitor was “Tell Keith.” Google Assistant will treat everything after the phrase as the message, or, specifically, as a Google Assistant variable that can be passed along to the connected service. In this example, I connected the Google Assistant trigger with the SMS service in IFTTT, which already has my phone number configured. As demonstrated in the video, the message will be sent to my mobile number as a result. Further, Google Home repeats the message to confirm that the IFTTT applet was executed successfully.

In order to message numbers other than your own, you need to configure either an email service (e.g., Office 365 or Gmail) or the Android SMS service. For iPhone users, email is your best option. Most mobile carriers have a feature where you can send an email to a 10-digit, mobile carrier specific, email address. Below are the most popular US carrier email addresses; simply replace “10-digit-number” with the desired mobile number:

  • AT&T: 10-digit-number@txt.att.net
  • Verizon: 10-digit-number@vtext.com
  • T-Mobile: 10-digit-number@tmomail.net
  • Sprint: 10-digit-number@messaging.sprintpcs.com

As for Android users, I suggest using the Android SMS service. Using “Tell Sally pick up milk on the way home” as an example message, here is a quick step-by-step guide to configuring an Android device to work with Google Home:

  1. Create a “New Applet”
  2. The first step in creating a new applet is to configure the “this” trigger. Click on the “this” link and search for the Google Assistant service.
  3. Google Assistant IFTTT Applet

  4. Select the “Say a phrase with a text ingredient” trigger.
  5. Say a phrase with text ingredient

  6. Complete all of the required fields. In the screenshot example, I used the phrase “Tell Sally $.” Tell Sally is the key phrase that connects Google Home with this IFTTT Applet. The “$” symbol represents the text spoken after the key phrase. (In the system, the “$” symbol will be replaced with words I use after “Tell Sally.” For example, using the “Tell Sally pick up milk on the way home” example, “$” will be replaced with “pick up milk on the way home.” I also created alternate ways to trigger the phrase “Tell Sally.” I did this by adding “Tell Sally that” and “Tell Sally to” to the trigger. The natural tendency will be to use those words (“that” and “to”) when speaking to the Google Home device, so I found this helpful.)
  7. Configure Google Assistant

  8. The next step is to create a “that” action. Click on “that” and search for the Android SMS service.
  9. Android SMS Action

  10. Select the “Send an SMS” action. (Note: You have to install and configure the IFTTT app on your Android device for this to work. Additionally, messages will be sent from your phone number.)
  11. Enter the phone number of the recipient of the Google Home message. Additionally, you can customize the message in the “Message” area. In my example, I make it clear that the message was triggered by Google Home by prefixing the message with “Message from Google Home: .” The “TextField” ingredient is required, and it will be replaced with the message captured above (i.e., whatever is being held by the “$” argument).
  12. Configure IFTTT Android SMS Action

  13. Test it! (It will take a few minutes for the change to be registered by Google Home, so be patient if Google Home does not understand your phrase right away.)

Side note: I used “tell” as my key word, as Google Home didn’t like when I used “message” or “text.” I’m assuming those are reserved words used by Google Home.

Drop me a line if you have any issues, or other suggestions. As an aside, I have my first set of Z-Wave blinds on order. We’ll see how that integration comes along.

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38 Comments

    • I just took a quick look and IFTTT doesn’t seem to have an integration with Apple for text messaging. I didn’t look originally, as I’m an Android user. Sorry that it doesn’t work for you.

      • There’s a work around, albeit “brute force”. Most numbers if not all (haven’t really researched) have an “SMS address” for AT&T it is XXXXXXXXXX@txt.att.net.

        Example:
        IF This: Google Assistant (with text ingredient) trigger “Tell Keith $”
        Then That: Gmail App (use SMS format address)

        These are just the basics, but you can get much more sophisticated if you use GMail server.

        • Good call out, Art. I forgot about that one and I even tested it when I was first configuring. This is a great alternative for those with iOS devices. Thanks for posting.

  1. I don’t see the applet for “Say a phrase with a text ingredient” trigger.
    Is there a direct link or is it no longer there?

      • Somehow my system was configured so that occasionally what we are having a conversation about in a room will be transcribed to my text messaging app and has even sent a few! I have no idea how it’s working so can’t fix it but clearly there is the ability to listen in. I also notice targeted ads that are too specific to be random- like a conversation about a new topic or event that I have no connection with- for example discussing “eye floater” then having it come up in articles suggested, or discussing with a friend their new dx. of Crohns Disease within range of my phone.

  2. I got it to work on iPhone by using SMS but you can only send to registered phone number. I can’t enter in any number. If some one else has figured out please post.

    • Hi Tablerock, I just looked and, apparently, IFTTT does not have an integration with iOS for text messaging. There may be alternative ways to work-around this issue, but I haven’t explored. Sorry to hear about this limitation.

  3. I am using an android phone to set this up and have followed your instructions to the letter and I can’t get it to work with my Google home.
    Please help

    • I was able to hook text messaging though my Android device that uses Google home. I followed his directions and it worked. So the short part of it is click on Google select Google home scroll down to the middle of the page click on create applet select the first selection and you follow the directions and you should be good.

    • Hi Robert. Can you provide a bit more info regarding what you are seeing/hearing? I’d be happy to help troubleshoot, if you have more details.

  4. Thank you for the article it was awesome I was able to hook up multiple text messaging options through IFTTT platform through Google home. Thanks again.

    • Thanks for the comments, Peter. I’m happy to hear you have been able to put the content to good use. Feel free to drop a comment with any other cool Google Home integrations that come to mind. Thanks for stopping by.

  5. Do you have to be the gmail account owner on the Google Home to do this? I am trying to set it up so that I can message my wife and none of these method are working.

    • Hi Michael,

      It depends on what actions you are trying to perform. If you have an Android device and you are trying to send text messages, there is no need to use Gmail. However, if you are trying to send emails, and not texts, I personally use Gmail.

  6. Yes, i found that to be the case. Since google homemdoesnt have a standalone email server, using IFTTT requires your own gmail acct. however I had a gmail acct so I didn’t experiment with the any other applet.

  7. Hi.
    I have tried this over and over and followed the directions to the letter. Google Home still tells me “Sorry, I can’t send messages yet.” Any clue?
    I’ll Paypal you some $$$ if you can help.
    Thanks,
    Keith

    • Check the gmail account you setup your Google Home with. It needs to match the one you are using on IFTTT. At least that is how I got mine to work.

    • Actually, I use the word “Tell”. I was working with this some more, and I am able to get this system to function on my phone. I just can’t get the Google Home to cooperate.

      All help is greatly appreciated.
      Keith K.

      • You guys (Art and Keith K) are dead on. I tried several different trigger words and “tell” was the one that worked. It seems that “message” and “text” are reserved words. Thanks for calling this out, guys.

  8. When this process refers to Android SMS..Which actual app is that? The normal SMS service built into my phone or the app called Android SMS 4.4?

      • You have to install IFTTT on your phone. When you have IFTTT installed, and you are using an Android phone, you can use the IFTTT to send text messages to anyone. I don’t think you will have any issues using international numbers, as it just uses your phones text messaging capabilities (triggered by the IFTTT app)

  9. Can I add events/reminders to my calendar for google home? tried but doesn’t show up..not sure how to do date/time part, etc.

  10. I did everything identical (with my info) to the video posted & xan get it to work, what am i doing wrong? Is there specific permissions needed? Please advise.

  11. I just set this up and it works flawlessly! Thank you for the tutorial, I have now started to create my own IFTTT commands. I have set up my top five contacts and the texting is instant to the specified recipient. This is very helpful when doing dishes or I’m knee deep in making dinner. Thanks again!

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