How to Make a Smart Speaker from an Old Android Device

Smart speakers are more popular than ever, and many people have them all over their homes. If you are in the market for your first (or sixth) Google Home device, but you don’t want to shell out over $100, you may have an alternative already in your home. If you have an old Android smartphone or tablet and a speaker to connect to it, you can set up your own Google Home.

Materials you need

  • Android phone or tablet. Not all devices will work, but I used a tablet running Android 4.4. Much older devices probably won’t be able to handle the software.
  • A speaker. You don’t need anything fancy. In fact, a cheap speaker may work better than a higher-end one.
  • The latest version of the Google App.

Get Started by enabling OK Google

The device you want to repurpose needs to be able to recognize the OK Google command. Many of the newer gadgets have this already set up, but if not, here’s how to enable it.

1. Tap the speaker at the end of the Google Search Bar near the top of the screen. If you have not already set up “OK Google” on your device, it will prompt you to do so. You’ll need to say “OK Google” three times to teach your device to listen for your voice.


2. If that doesn’t work, try tapping the three horizontal lines at the end of the bar at the bottom of the screen.

3. Select Settings.


4. Tap voice.


5. Tap “OK Google” detection, and it should give you the option to set your voice recognition.


Set up the voice options

Now that you have OK Google set up, go back into Google Settings and tap “Voice.”

1. Make sure the switch next to “From any screen” is turned on.


2. Go back one screen and select the Hands-free option.

3. Turn on the two switches for Bluetooth devices and Wired headsets.


4. Go back and check to see if speech output is turned on.


Now your device is ready to listen to you. Attach your speaker either with an auxiliary jack or by Bluetooth.

For your homemade Google Home to work, the device screen and the speaker must always be on. You can change your display settings to keep the screen on all the time, so it can be used hands-free. You can also leave those settings alone, and just swipe the screen to open it when you want to use it.

The speaker cannot be one that turns off automatically either. So you will probably want to keep your Google Home near outlets so both devices can remain plugged in.


What can you do now?

You may not be able to do everything an actual Google Home device can do. You do get a lot of functionality, though, and you should be able to use your homemade Google Home to do things like:

  • Answer questions
  • Set alarms
  • Tell you the latest news or sports results
  • Play specific songs or albums from your Google Play Music library

If you used a phone that still has service, your Google Home is capable of making phone calls and sending messages.  If it’s no longer in service or you used a tablet, you can set it up for Wi-Fi calling. The real Google Home can’t do that yet.

If you have set up one of these smart speakers, what are some impressive abilities it has? What do you wish that it did? Let us know below in the comments section.

Tracey Rosenberger
Tracey Rosenberger

Tracey Rosenberger spent 26 years teaching elementary students, using technology to enhance learning. Now she's excited to share helpful technology with teachers and everyone else who sees tech as intimidating.

Subscribe to our newsletter!

Our latest tutorials delivered straight to your inbox