Today at Google’s October 8th event, the search giant finally formally unveiled their answer to Amazon Echo, Google Home. It will cost you $129, and it’s available for pre-order starting today from the Google Store, Best Buy, Walmart, and Target. It ships and will be available in retail stores on November 4. It also comes with a free 6-month trial to YouTube Red, meaning you get access to Google Play Music All Access as well.
For those not in the know, Amazon kind of snagged themselves an unexpected success with Amazon Echo. The home companion housed a friendly and helpful AI companion by the name of Alexa, and although the product was expected to only appeal to a niche audience, it soon found a home in the market at large. Now Google wants in on that action.
Originally announced at Google I/O 2016, Home promises to be everything that Echo is and more. Although Google has put a lot of legwork into making their AI companions more relatable, the fact that they’re still calling it “Assistant” instead of giving it a name like Siri or Alexa is a little bit of an indicator that there may still be room for improvement in the humanizing department.
But names aside, we’ve already gotten a taste of Google Assistant through Allo. Indeed, many users believed that this might have been the most polished aspect of the app, which for many still feels like it’s missing major features. Assistant has proven to be an incredibly powerful companion – perhaps the best we’ve seen – so Home could just give Echo a run for its money.
Originally announced at Google I/O 2016, Home promises to be everything that Echo is and more.
With Google Home, you’ll be able to control your smarthome, access media, get answers to questions fielded on the fly, and interact with Google Cast technology. Indeed, the beating heart of Google Home is essentially a souped up Chromecast device given robust speakers and a microphone.
The strongest thing Google has going for it in this market is raw information. Sure, Amazon knows a lot about its users and has access to a lot of data that they can use to make their assistant effective, that doesn’t hold a candle to the kind of information that Google has accrued during its stead as the world’s go-to search engine.
For instance, you’ll be able to find songs through voice commands, even if you don’t remember the name of the song. You might try “Play that Shakira song from Zootopia,” and Assistant will be able to determine, through context, that you’re looking for “Try Everything,” and it will start playing it on the music service that you use most frequently.
Assistant also remembers subjects, so interacting with it is more conversational. You may ask what Adele’s real name is, and then ask, “How many Grammys has she won?” Google Home will remember that you’re talking about Adele even though you didn’t Assistant her name in the second question. What’s more is that Assistant will access resources beyond basic search results, such as Wikipedia content, to give you the most detailed and relevant information possible.
Home also integrates with Nest, IFTTT, SmartThings, and Philips HUE. Google says they’re actively expanding the number of smarthome services that are supported by the device. The base is also interchangeable, so you can swap it out to match the aesthetic of your home.
As an added perk, Home also features a daily briefing feature that consults your calendar and is able to give you a rundown of your schedule in the morning. Just say, “OK Google, what does my day look like?”
Google believes that the future of technology is going to be conversational, and Home is out to prove that perspective. But what do you think of Google’s new home companion? Sound off with your take in the comments below!