Following a number of rumors and early reports, Google has now officially announced Google Home during its Google I/O 2016 keynote. Google Home is essentially the Mountain View giant’s answer to Amazon’s Echo, allowing users to communicate with Google Now and Google Search without ever needing to reach for the phone.
Like Echo, Google Home integrates a built-in bluetooth speaker and microphone all in small, sleek package. For those who want to customize the look, you’ll also be happy to know that the case can be swapped out for different colors shells to better match your decor. There’s also LED lights that let you know when it’s working, though the design itself is completely button free. While not very big in size, Google Home does need to be plugged in and isn’t necessarily meant to be portable, but really that’s not the point here. Instead, home is meant to be your hub to all thing Google, right from your living room, kitchen, or wherever you place.
According to Google’s Mario Queiroz, the man behind the Chromecast and who is now heading up Google Home, the Wi-Fi speaker has rich bass, clear highs and should be a thrill to use. Some of the core features here include the ability to answer your questions using Google Search, track weather and other information, organize your itinerary, and basically all the things you’d expect from Google Assistant on your phone. As you might expect, Google Home also has the ability to learn your schedule and habits, giving you a better experience the more it gets to know you. Lastly, there’s planned integration for your smart appliances, such as those built by Nest.
Taking a page from the Chromecast’s book, casting is also built into Google Home, allowing you to send your music to all the connected speakers in your house at once, all by the power of your voice. Similarly, you can ask Google Home to play video content and it’ll cast it to the big screen TV of your choice.
The downsides? First, only one single account will be supported at launch, which is a bit of a bummer. Second, the API is locked down here, unlike Amazon Echo, at least for now. That means only a limited number of apps and services will work with Google’s solution, though we imagine Google will work to expand its functionality quickly. Lastly, it’s not launching right away. Google says it is coming “later” and has yet to give us specific pricing details.
As Google Home was just announced moments ago, we’re still piecing everything together but we’ll be sure to keep you updated as we learn more. In the meantime, stay tuned for all the other great Google I/O coverage.