Google just announced a voice-activated wi-fi speaker that works very much like the Amazon Echo, except of course it is powered by Google. The new product is called Google Home and it works in conjunction with another new “virtual product” called Google Assistant that listens and answers your questions. Google says the assistant is conversational — an ongoing two-way dialogue between you and Google that understands your world and helps you get things done. It makes it easy to buy movie tickets while on the go, to find that perfect restaurant for your family to grab a quick bite before the movie starts, and then help you navigate to the theater.
The assistant is an ambient experience that will work seamlessly across devices and contexts. So you can summon Google’s help no matter where you are or what the context. It builds on Google’s 17 year history in deeply understanding users’ questions.
The new Google Home voice-activated speaker brings the Google assistant to any room in your house. It lets you enjoy entertainment, manage everyday tasks, and get answers from Google — all using conversational speech. With a simple voice command, you can ask Google Home to play a song, set a timer for the oven, check your flight, or turn on your lights. It’s designed to fit your home with customizable bases in different colors and materials.
According to the announcement at Google I/O Developers Conference (May 18, 2016), Google wants Home to be the control center for your entire home. They envision you’ll use it for daily tasks, set alarms and timers, manage to-do and shopping lists, and be a central hub for controlling a smart home, in addition to music. That means it will integrate with lighting, thermostats, switches and more, but not likely much at launch until the eco-system gets built out.
Google Home unveiling at Google I/O
With so many features, it’s easy to overlook Google Home is a wireless speaker that streams music via Wi-Fi directly from the cloud. It claims to deliver rich bass and clear highs in a compact form factor. It should work with major music streaming services as well as with Google Cast to send music from directly from Android smartphones, even iPhones. Unlike Amazon Echo, Google Home will be able to control other speakers in your home, “they say”, without complicated setup. Multi-room/multi-zone playback will be possible if you have many Google Home devices so music can be played independently in each room (or together). Watch out Sonos! Plus voice commands will be able to control, play or stream video on your TV.
Price and Availability
Google Home will be released later this year. No word on pricing yet. You can sign-up at https://home.google.com to get notified when it’s available.