Long has Amazon ruled the ‘virtual assistant home speaker’ market, but Alexa’s days may soon be numbered as King (Queen?) of my living room. Google has released more details on Google Home, its response to the Echo and entry into a deeper smart home experience. Google may be late to the party, but Home packs some killer features that make it a compelling product for the holiday season and for your everyday use.
Design wise, Google Home is a small, unassuming speaker with swappable bases and a white angular top. The top has indicator LEDs, a set of far-field microphones as well as a capacitive area and a mic mute button. The whole design is simple and meant to blend into your home. The speaker is a set of full range speakers with high excursion active drivers for excellent sound and carry, and you can have multiple Home units in your house for simultaneous streaming. Pricing starts at $129 and it comes in white with six swappable bases in two material options: Mango, Marine, and Violet in fabric; Carbon, Snow, and Copper for metal. The extra bases are not currently available for sale, but should be by the time the Home launches.
First and foremost on the feature front is Google Assistant, Google’s machine learning-powered virtual assistant. Google Assistant allows Home to hold conversations and answer questions with context awareness and control your smart home devices. The Google Assistant is the heart of Google Home, and since it’s a machine learning system, it will improve as time goes on. Google Assistant also allows for searching like you would on your phone or computer, as well as a day brief that gives you a rundown of your schedule as well as weather and important updates when you say “Good Morning.” Google Assistant can handle a lot of queries, such as translations, location searches, routes on Maps, and can even integrate with third-party apps for more control. Google Assistant is the main event here, and there’s so much more it can do that I can’t even touch on all of it here.
Google Home is also Cast enabled, meaning you can wirelessly send audio to the speaker for playback. Cast on Home also allows for control over your cast devices, like Chromecast, Chromecast Audio, Android TV and other Cast-enabled devices. You can just use your voice to send videos from YouTube as well as Netflix straight to your device for seamless viewing. Home also supports Google Photos in the same manor, allowing you to search for photos with your voice and allowing them to be displayed on your TV. This feature paired with Google Assistant really sets it apart from Echo in terms of functionality, and at $129 it’s cheaper than the full Echo as well.
Google Home will be available in the Google Store as well as retail stores like Best Buy on November 4th, and if you purchase one you get six months of YouTube Red for free as a bonus. Do you think that Google Home has what it takes to beat the Echo? Will you be pre-ordering? Let us know in the comments!