May 27, 2016
Google I/O is this week and with that comes a few days of nonstop Google News. The big announcement of I/O this year comes in the form of a new hardware device called “Google Home.”
Google Home is a speaker that has Google built into it. It is much like Amazon’s Alexa, but it has a new “Google Assistant,” A connected speaker that allows you to perform simple tasks around your house is the device that you never thought you needed until you got one in your house.
Amazon had a huge lead on this product and has been continually making updates to the product and the core technology. Amazon has even opened up access to Alexa to some third party developers. Google has a lot to catch up to.
My first thought about the product was, naturally, where in my house could I have two speakers? Google’s voice recognition has always been top notch, but that is something that Amazon has also never had a problem with. The obvious advantage that Google has over Amazon is the number of products that they can integrate with it. Google also showed a few question and answer aspects on stage, like looking up movie times and following that up with more information.
Google also showed Chromecast support for Google Home. Chromecast devices are something that I love. The capabilities of using an all voice device with Chromecast would be interesting. Controlling the TV with an always listening device is something that would be killer in the living room.
The early preview at I/O and the video of a family interacting with it already shows that this is going to be an interesting device and something that is going to attract a lot of attention later this year.
Google Home’s feature set could be big with things like calendar integration, and having emails read to you. I just hope that I can say something like “Ok, Google. Play ‘The West Wing’ on Netflix” and it shows up on my screen.
What will be interesting to watch is what Google prices a device like this. It feels like something that will fall between $99 and $250.
I love using the Echo and it has become something of a daily practice. I even started writing this using Google’s voice dictation on my Android phone. But, does this start the conversation of how much is too much, Google?
Written by John Siwicki who lives and works building interesting things. You should follow him on Twitter