In the third Beginner’s Guide I showed you how to enable the Homegraph API to allow the Google Assistant to sync devices with Home Assistant. Today I’ll be showing you a few lines of code that will sync the two platforms every time you reboot your Home Assistant. As a tinkerer’s tool, you will be rebooting very often, so it’s quite handy to use this automation. Just add these lines (no adjustments needed) to your automations.yaml:
- alias: 'Update Google Assistant on start of Home Assistant'
Let’s clear up a few misconceptions: When talking about Google Home (GH) I mean the hardware, the physical speaker that sits in your home, and Google Assistant (GA) is the software that runs on top of that hardware. Many, including Google, use the two synonymously. However this integration will not just connect your smart speaker with Home Assistant. The Google Assistant runs on just about anything and it’s reach is increasing with almost daily. Anything from your phone to watches to security cameras and washing machines run the Google Assistant. It’s just that Google Home was the first device that brought Google Assistant into our homes.
Be warned before you start this guide: This is by far the most complex thing we’ve done so far. There’s a fair bit of coding involved and we’ll be working with more than one different tool. With that said, I’ll try to explain things in the simplest way possible. After all, this is a Beginner’s Guide!
What will be done and what to expect
In this guide we’ll be going through the steps on how to integrate your Home Assistant with the Google Assistant (and thus your Google Home). By the end of this guide you’ll be able to ask your Google Assistant to turn the lights on with a specific colour and manage most of your devices that have been added to your Home Assistant.
There are two main requirements for the Google Assistant and Home Assistant:
The obvious one: You need a smartphone that is compatible with the Google. This can be an iOS or Android device. You do not need a Google Home device for this integration to work, it just makes things more convenient.
The less obvious, but soon will become apparent, one: Your Home Assistant has to open to the internet. You can find out how to do that in my Beginner’s Guide Part 2.
This has already been pointed out in the first Beginner’s Guide but I’ll mention it again: Using an advanced text editor, such as Sublime Text will make editing files so much easier.
This guide was written for Windows users. I don’t have any Apple devices and as such couldn’t test any of the steps.
First up, you’re going to want to download the gactions CLI. This is the command line interface used to test and update your integration. Download the correct version for your OS (in most cases this will be x86_64) and copy the file into a new and empty folder. In the same folder create a text file and rename it project.json (make sure you have File name extensions in explorer enabled, otherwise you will end up with a file called project.json.txt). Open the file with Sublime Text. Update and copy the following code into it (use the URL you previously created with Duck DNS):
Go to the Actions on Google developer console and create a new project. Enter a suitable project name (I went for Home Assistant, how imaginative) and your country. Click on create project. You’ll be greeted with a new window containing many complicated sounding words. Don’t worry, I don’t understand any of it either. We’re only interested in the Actions SDK. Click on Build. Copy the code ($ gactions update…) and paste it into an empty notepad, we’re going to need that.
In the notepad, replace PACKAGE_NAME with project.json and replace the $ with ./ if you’re running Windows. This is what you’re code should look like on a windows machine:
Open the folder we created for the gactions CLI in the File Explorer, hold down shift and right-click anywhere inside the folder. You should see Open PowerShell window here in the right-click menu somewhere. Click on that. Copy and paste the code from your notepad and paste it into the PowerShell window using CRTL+V. Hit the Enter/Return key on your keyboard to run the code.
After running the code you will be prompted to visit a URL. Copy and paste that URL into a browser and allow Assistant CLI to view and manage your Actions on Google. You will receive a long string of code in return for the permission. Copy that code and paste it into the PowerShell window. After a short time a message containing a URL will be returned. Copy the URL in the message.
Open the copied URL in a browser and fill in the required App information. Once again, it isn’t really important what you add but I always like to keep it relevant. Once Google is happy with the information you’ve given, click save. Don’t worry about entering private information, this Action will never be publicly released.
Click on the back arrow and select Account linking. Click Edit. Fill in information (has to be added but isn’t important). Click on Add in the following prompt. Select the following:
Grant type: Implicit
For the Client ID we’re going to create a long, randomly generated and secure string. Use something like the Random Password Generator for this and make sure to select the maximum length. Save this string in a notepad, we’re going to need it later (I recommend you add the description Client ID too)! The Authorization URL is your Home Assistant URL with ]/api/google_assistant/auth added to it:
Add two scopes: One being name, the other one email. Following that, enter some random gibberish in the testing instructions and click save.
Finally, with all the information entered, click on TEST DRAFT.
With everything sorted out, click on the settings cog in the top-left corner and open the Project settings. Here you’ll find your Project ID. Copy it into your notepad (again, give it a description).
This is an optional step but is highly recommended. The Homegraph API will allow you to ask your Google Assistant to “sync my devices”. That command will sync your Home Assistant devices with the Google Assistant each time you add a new one or change an existing one. To enable the Homegraph API, follow these steps:
Restart your Home Assistant from the Web UI and wait for it to restart.
Google Home app
Open the Google Home app on your smartphone and navigate to Home control (you’ll find it in the menu). Click on the big + button to add new devices (in this case the home assistant). The project we have just created will located at the very top of the list and will prefixed by [test]. Add the device and all of your devices set up in Home Assistant will show up!
Now that we’ve got our Home Assistant set up using Hass.io, it’s time to move on to more interesting matters. If you’re anything like me, the first thing you might want to do is control your Home Assistant using a Google Home speaker or the Google Assistant on your phone. And while we’re at it, wouldn’t it also be nice to be able to access the Home Assistant when you’re not at home? Luckily for you, that’s exactly what we’re going to be doing today!
The following steps might want to be avoided by anyone with privacy concerns. Following this guide will open up your Home Assistant to the big, bad internet. It’s more important than ever to set a password for your Home Assistant before going any further (you can find out how to do that in part 1 of the Beginner’s Guide). In this guide I’ll be showing you how to open your Home Assistant to the internet, configure a custom URL (using Duck DNS) with encryption (using Let’s Encrypt) and what ports you have to open on your Router.
Getting an custom Home Assistant URL with Duck DNS
To get things started, sign up to Duck DNS. Duck DNS is a free dynamic DNS. To put things simply, this service will translate your router’s public IP into an easily remembered URL. You could just enter your router’s public IP into your browser to access Home Assistant but there is one main drawback. The main reason you can’t just use the router’s IP is because it changes. Duck DNS will regularly check your the IP and update the settings so you’ll always have access to your Home Assistant.
Adding a new domain to Duck DNS
Once you’ve signed up to Duck DNS you can add a new domain. Just enter your desired URL into the field following http and click on ‘add domain’. In the top half of the window you’ll also see some information like your account and account type. Keep this window open because we’ll need the token later on.
into your browser of choice. Access the add-on store (it’s located under Hass.io in the menu and look for the add-on Duck DNS. Install the Duck DNS add-on and enter the add-ons settings by clicking on its card. The default settings are shown in the screenshot below:
Remember that token we saw on the Duck DNS website? It’s time to copy that and enter it into your Duck DNS settings. Enter the token and domain you registered so you’re settings look like the following (fields that have to be edited have been highlighted in bold):
Unfortunately the Duck DNS add-on can’t take care of quite everything and there are a few lines of code we’re going to have to add to the Home Assistant’s configuration.yaml file. Open the file using your favourite editor and enter the following:
api_password: YOUR PASSWORD
base_url: YOUR DUCK DNS URL
As you can see in my screenshot, I’ve not included the api_password and base_url in my configuration.yaml file and have instead added these to the secrets.yaml file (more about that here).
Port forwarding your Home Assistant
The final step is telling your router what device to look for, when entering the URL into your browser. This is achieved by port forwarding. This step will be a bit different for everyone, because all router interfaces look a bit different. Somewhere in the settings you’ll find the option port forwarding and you’re going to want to enter the following:
Entry port: Single port / 443
Destination port: Single port / 8123
The final step will be to check your configuration in the Home Assistant interface and restart it. You should now be able to access the Home Assistant using the costum .duckdns.org domain you’ve chosen!