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article imageGoogle Home smart speaker wants to help you in the house

By James Walker     Oct 5, 2016 in Technology
Google announced its own voice-controlled smart speaker, Google Home, at its Made by Google event yesterday. The speaker has Google Assistant built right in and is designed to rival the popular Amazon Echo, letting you say voice commands in your home.
Google Home is very similar to the Amazon Echo. It is based on a minimal design that's meant to blend in with its surroundings. Several different finishes and base designs are available, covering a range of colours in both metal and fabric variants. To ensure Home is welcome in your home, Google has made it as unobtrusive as possible. There are no blinking LED lights or buttons to detract from its clean appearance, although four LEDs and a mute switch can be found on the top panel.
Home is designed to be controlled with your voice. When you talk to Home, you interact with Google Assistant, the company's new artificial intelligence software that's an integral part of the hardware it launched yesterday. It enables you to communicate with Google by talking using natural language queries, starting a conversation between you, the search engine and third-party services.
As with Echo, Home can be activated from anywhere in the room it's placed in. You can ask Google for help with whatever you're doing. If you're busy in the kitchen but want to play some music, Home will be able to do it for you. Alternatively, if you want to check the weather while watching a film, Home allows you to get the current conditions by simply asking the question. Home's interaction model is based on human communication.
Google Home
Google Home
Home includes a daily briefing capability that fills you in on the latest news and reminders for the day ahead, when you wake up. Saying "Tell me about the day" in the morning will deliver curated personal information to help you prepare for work each morning. Home can also act as an alarm clock to get you out of bed.
"With Google Home, it’s as simple as using your voice to turn up the music, get answers to a myriad of questions, manage tasks around the house, and even adjust the thermostat or lights," said Google. It allows you to bring the Google Assistant into your kitchen, living room or anywhere else around the house."
Home's assistant capabilities are its headline feature but Google has also taken care to ensure it excels as a general-use speaker. It uses a high-excursion driver in a dual-passive radiator design to spread audio across a room, despite being packaged in a compact body. According to Google, it delivers "crystal-clear highs and deep lows." You can play music from anywhere in your house by streaming over WiFi.
Google envisions that people will want multiple Home speakers in their house, one for each major room. To lower the risk of several devices chiming in each time you say "OK Google," each speaker is linked together if signed in with the same Google account. When "OK Google" is detected, the speakers will work together to figure out which unit is closest to you. That one will then start the conversation.
Google Home
Google Home
Home has a strong feature set but is coming to the market considerably behind established rivals, most notably Amazon's Alexa-powered Echo. The Echo has proven to be an unexpected hit in households. Google is understandably keen to replicate Amazon's success. The company is betting big on artificial intelligence being the driving force for future tech. It wants to have a presence in every area of the field. That includes building its own hardware to run its Assistant AI, in case Alexa should win customers over before Assistant has even launched.
Google Home is available to pre-order today for $129, significantly less than the $179 Echo. Google is also bundling a free six-month trial of YouTube Red, including unlimited access to ad-free music and video. Home will start shipping to customers in November.
More about Google, google home, Artificial intelligence, machine learning, google assistant
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