To further its Google Assistant blitz, Google also debuted on Tuesday its answer to Amazon Echo in the field of household automation: Google Home, which was first announced at I/O 2016. Pretty evenly-except for the price. Its new Home device is a sleek internet-connected speaker that’s created to respond to voice commands, like Amazon’s popular Echo.
And whereas the Echo and Echo Dot come in white and black, Google Home is customizable with different colored body cases to fit different interior decor.
The top of the Google Home is a touch panel. “How do you get wine stains out of a rug?” was another. The Home comes with three outward-facing speakers that supposedly blast sound in every direction. Its adoption outside the home also hangs on how useful it can be without having to talk to it.
Amazon hoped to leverage its Prime subscription service to encourage uptake of Echo, offering it at a 33 per cent discount (£50) for Prime members. You can say, for example, “Watch John Oliver on TV” and Home will bring up Oliver’s show on YouTube via Chromecast.
Then, there’s the software. Google has released more details on Google Home, its response to the Echo and entry into a deeper smart home experience. After asking the text-based version of Assistant one question, it provides follow-up questions that may also be relevant.
In an attempt to ramp up its consumer electronics strategy, Google will today send out its two new smartphones in the market – Pixel and Pixel XL, at a mega event which is underway in San Francisco.
It also has third-party integrations – it works with most major music streaming services out of the box – and will have a developer programme launching later this year, allowing services to speak through Assistant directly to the user.
Pressing and holding the home button or saying “Ok Google” triggers the assistant. While Google boasted about the hardware, Google CEO Sundar Pichai made it clear that AI is what will set it apart from competitors like Apple and Amazon. Priced at $US130 ($169), the Home is certainly cheaper than the Amazon Echo. Google management was caught off guard over the launch of a device that served the objective of showcasing the company’s artificially intelligent software, called Alexa.
One of the more whimsical features of Home is that it can do a “coin toss” when prompted … though we just have to take its word whether the result is heads or tails.
It’s got a more elegant design, for one. Even with a smaller list of capabilities, the $130 Google Home is an appealing way to add a sleek speaker to your kitchen while also getting involved in the voice-powered computer future.