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How to create Android Routines (and a few of my favorites to get you started)

This handy Android feature makes it easy to add more automation to your life. Here's what you need to know.
Written by Jack Wallen, Contributing Writer
Android figure at Google CES 2024
June Wan/ZDNET

Google introduced an Android feature in 2017 called Routines that makes it easy to automate specific tasks on your phone. Routines allow you to initiate multiple commands with a single phrase, at a specific time, or when you leave or arrive at a specific location.

For instance, if you have smart lights associated with the Google Home Android app, you can create a routine that turns off those lights when you go to bed. If you have a thermostat associated with Google Home, you can create routines like I'm Cold (which, when you say, "Hey, Google, I'm cold," raises the temperature by 2 degrees) or "Hey, Google, I'm hot" (which lowers the temperature by 2 degrees). 

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With a bit of creativity, there's no end to what you can do with Android Routines. Think of it this way: if you can do something with a Google Assistant command, you can create a Routine for it. 

As for me, I have the following Routines I use:

  • Bedtime - asks what time an alarm should be set and informs me if my phone battery is low.
  • I'm Home - play random music.
  • My Morning - reads out my agenda, today's weather, the news, and plays classical music on Spotify.
  • Wife - when I say "wife" to Google Assistant, it calls my wife.

Reminders consist of Starters (such as a time, location, or command), Actions (what happens when the starter is initiated), and Configurations (where/if media should be played). You can add multiple Starters and multiple Actions to a single routine, but only a single Configuration.

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Now, how do you create a Routine? Let me show you how.

How to create an Android Routine

What you'll need: The only thing you'll need for this is an Android phone running at least version 12 of the OS (which should cover most current devices on the market). I will demonstrate this on a Pixel 8 Pro running Android 14. If you're using a device other than a Pixel phone, the instructions might vary slightly.

1. Open the Routines page

Open Settings (from either the Notification Shade or the App Drawer) and type Routines in the search field. When Routines appears, tap it. 

2. Create a new Routine

On the Routines page, you'll see suggestions and any previously created Routines (if applicable). If you like one of the suggested routines, tap the associated Set Up Routine, which will take you to the pre-configured Routine. However, if you want to create a custom Routine, tap New in the top-right corner.

The Android Routines main page.

You can select from a pre-configured Routine or create your own.

Jack Wallen/ZDNET

3. Chose the type of Routine

On the next Page, you can select from either a Personal or Household Routine. The difference is that Personal Routines are those you can edit or view, whereas Household Routines are those that can be edited and viewed by any Home member. Tap the type of Routine you want to create.

The Android Routines type selection page.

Personal Routines are those just for you and Household Routines are for anyone associated with your Google Home.

Jack Wallen/ZDNET

4. Title your Routine

At the top of the new Routine page, tap Untitled and then type a name for the routine. After you've taken care of that, tap Add Starter.

The Android new Routine page.

Make sure to give your Routine a unique name.

Jack Wallen/ZDNET

5. Add your Starter

From the Starter page, tap the type of Starter (such as a command, time, location, etc.) and then configure that Starter accordingly. Once you've taken care of that, tap Add Starter.

The Android Routine Starter configuration page.

You can select from a number of different Starters.

Jack Wallen/ZDNET

5. Add your Action

Back at the new Routine page, tap Add Action. On the resulting page, tap the type of Action you want and configure it accordingly. Each type of Action includes different configuration options. If you want to use a Google Assistant command as an Action, you'll want to scroll to the bottom of the page and tap Try Adding Your Own, where you can type the command you want to be used for the Action. You can add as many Actions as you need.

The Android Routine Action configuration page.

Here is where you configure what your new Routine will do.

Jack Wallen/ZDNET

6. Save your Routine

When you've finished creating your Routine, tap Save to save the work. Once you've saved it, the Routine can be used. Whenever the Starter trigger occurs, the Action will happen.

And that's how you create your first Routine. Once you start using this feature, you'll find that it makes for a very efficient way to ease the complications of your day, or simply automate simple, routine actions.

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