We have all seen sci-fi movies where the protagonist asks a random question in to the air and an autonomous voice, seemingly out of nowhere, answers back. This is now a reality. Google has created a voice-activated speaker – backed by Google Assistant, the Google Home.
Design and Features
The device looks like a nesting doll with the top swiped off at an angle. The base is easily replaceable and comes in multiple colors (orange, purple, teal fabric etc.) to match its surroundings. The top of the device has a touch pad with LED lights that changes color depending on what it’s doing. Upon removing the base you’ll find speakers facing in different directions. The speaker quality is really good for its size but with a bit too much emphasis on base. Home has two far-field microphones which can pick up commands even in a large room.
“Ok Google” or “Hey Google” phrases are the signals that initiate the device to receive user input. The top surface can be used to change the volume, start a request, play-pause music, or turn of an alarm or timer. Users can put the device on standby mode using the mute button included. This basically makes sure the device isn’t listening.
Getting the device up and running for the first time is simple and quick. Users simply need to download the Google Home app, add the device and follow a few simple instructions to set it up. After this, your device awaits your orders.
Some basic things you can ask of Google Home
- Check your calendar
- Add items to your shopping list
- Set or snooze an alarm
- Tell you about the weather
- Perform a calculation
- Play or pause music or podcasts
- Call a Uber
Apart from these, Home can also be used to control Belkin WeMo products. The rest of Home’s smart partners include Nest, SmartThings, IFTTT, Philips Hue etc. Frequent updates from Google will make the Home smarter and more integrated with time.
Shortcomings of Google Home
The fundamental issue with Google Home is the fact that it is a one person device. Only one account can be linked to the device. This leads to many problems if there are multiple people using the same device. For example, “check my calendar” will only check the calendar of the linked account even if that account isn’t yours. Ideally, the device should have recognized which user wants to check his or her calendar and go to that specific user’s calendar. Compared to other similar devices such as Amazon Echo, Google Home’s responses seem rather bland and humorless, similar to that of a new assistant rather than someone familiar.
Coming in at $129 the device’s knowledge-graph-user data, backed smarts gives you just the answer you’re looking for. The device in itself is more of an accessory than a necessity and whether or whether not to buy it comes down to user preference. In the end, it is safe to say that this is merely the first step into the future of smart home assistants.