By Patricia L. Garcia
OK Google, let’s roll! The much-anticipated Google Home is finally here.
Announced at today’s Google’s Hardware Event, the software (and now hardware) company revealed that it has an answer to Amazon’s Echo and it’s ready to ship Nov. 4. Think of Google Home as Google Now on steroids.
The voice-activated personal assistant is $129, which comes with a free six-month trial of YouTube red. The sleek Bluetooth-enabled device comes in several colors, with fabric or metal speakers and works with your Google account, making it easy to access things like your Google calendar. There’s not a lot of hardware on the device, aside from a touch-sensitive top you can use to change the volume or to pause music or podcasts.
According to Google, you can use the device to:
- enjoy entertainment, such as streaming music throughout your home or listening to your favorite podcast;
- get answers by asking questions about, well, just about anything;
- manage tasks like setting alarms or verbally add items to shopping lists;
- plan your day by searching and asking more about local businesses or get status updates on upcoming flights and
- control your home with short phrases (our favorite use-case from Google suggests “Get these kids off my lawn” to turn on automated sprinklers).
Of course, there are many more practical – and impractical – ways to utilize Google Home. A highlight of the device is the ability to easily connect to other smart home devices in the home, like Chromecast and Nest, which Google owns.
The very forgetful music lover in me loves Home’s ability to spin up songs you might have forgotten the name of – as an example, during the press event, Google asked Home to play the Shakira song from Zootopia. Home played “Try Everything.”
No word yet on any security issues that may come from using the personal assistant, nor any word on how Home will handle a household with more than one Google account – this is something that annoys me about my car. Sometimes it’ll immediately connect to my phone; others, it’s searching for my husband’s phone.
If this device can manage any quirks of many voice-recognition devices (“I said call Alice, phone; not Alex!”), Home will be a welcome addition to the swath of personal home assistants on the market.