At its October 4 event held in San Francisco, Google unveiled it's Wi-Fi-enabled speaker - the Google Home - that works as a hub for the connected home. Squarely challenging Amazon's Alexa line of connected speakers, Home's intelligence is powered by the new Google Assistant, a more powerful version of the Google Now assistant we have seen on Android devices. Here's everything you need to know about Google Home.
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What is Google Home exactly?
Google Home is an Internet-connected cylindrical speaker that can be switched on by just your voice, and can talk to you courtesy the Google Assistant. According to Google, Home not only plays music on request but can also help you manage tasks around the house and answer queries that you would generally look for on the search engine.
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In terms of hardware, Google Home is a small speaker (less than 4-inches across and 6-inches tall) that features a 2-inch driver and dual 2-inch passive radiators on the sides. On top, you will find a capacitive touch panel with four LEDs; this panel allows you to adjust the volume, pause or play audio, and call up the Assistant, among others things. There are two mics on the top that are always listening for your commands. There is also a button on the side to mute the mic if you want the speaker to stop listening to you.
Aesthetically pleasing, Google Home comes with interchangeable metal and fabric bases in six colours (Carbon, Copper, Snow, Mango, Marine, and Violet) and two finishes (painted steel and polycarbonate).
What does Google Home do?
Google Home is always listening to what you say and gets activated when you say the phrase "OK Google." On the official website for the product, Google says Home is able to distinguish between speech and ambient noise with the help of "sophisticated natural language processing."
If you buy Google Home, you will be able to interact with the device by setting it up to recognise your voice. Once the speaker becomes attuned to your voice, it will be able to pick up commands from you even when there is a lot of noise, according to Google. It works with both Android as well as iOS devices, and can be operated using an app.
You will be able to play music that is either on your smartphone (via Google Cast) or via the Internet (from websites like YouTube or streaming services like Spotify, Pandora etc). Home will also be able to control other Internet-connected smart-home devices you have and can, thus, be used to operate devices powered by platforms such as Next, Philips Hue, Samsung SmartThings and IFTTT.
With access to all the information that Google has acquired over the years, Home will be able to answer your queries in a jiffy. It will be able to tell you the weather, look up general information on the Web without ever typing a single word, get updates for sports scores, and more.
Google plans to open up Home to developers and will release Assistant SDK in the coming months. This means that as more developers get on board, Google Home will be able to do a lot more, such as booking an Uber or buying movie tickets.
How much will Google Home cost?
Google Home has been priced at $129 (approximately Rs. 8,500) in the US and is up for pre-orders in the country right now. It is supposed to start shipping on November 4. While the device is heading to the UK "soon", there is no word so far on when it will be released in India.