We have been hearing all sorts of things about Google Home — Google’s supposed Alexa killer. The gadget mimics any of the Alexa powered devices — such as Tap or Echo — at a fundamental level, however, Google’s association has led to a significant enhancement in it’s capabilities. Let’s take a look at Google Home and just what the hyped about speaker-microphone array is capable of.
Okay. so the decidedly good looking — as far as home assistants go. It is quite small and unobstructive and doesn’t stand out. So, you can easily place it a corner and it will pass unnoticed. Google is offering a variety of bases for its, which are also available in both metal and fabric finishes, allowing you to customize the look of your Google Home as per your preference. There is a single power port on the device, which means that you can not connect it to an external audio system through a wire.
There is a ring of LEDs at the top, which is meant to let you know if the device is listening to you. This feature is expected to work in tandem with the mute button on the back, which has been placed there so that you can completely shut down the microphone in case you don’t want Google to by chance listen in to your conversations. You can also change the volume through a touch panel at the top of the device.
The setup is a breeze. Google has gone out of its way to make the process as painless for you as possible. You can simply download the Google Home app on your smartphone, wait for it to find the device and voilà. The app then creates a temporary Wi-Fi connection between your smartphone and Google Home in order to connect the latter to your Home Wi-Fi connection. The process takes mere seconds.
Once the setup is complete, you use Google Home in much the same manner as Amazon Echo. Simply put it somewhere where it can hear you and shout out your questions and comments to the Google Assistant. While similar to Amazon’s Alexa, Google Home deploys the power of Google Assistant which thanks to the fact that it has been around for far longer, is arguably more powerful.
Another advantage that the Google Home has over its compatriots is the fact that it is as future ready as you could want. Almost all of its vast knowledge is derived from the clouds, courtesy your Internet connection. As such, you are not going to have to worry about the device getting outdated anytime in the foreseeable future.
While the Google Home packs only two speakers as compared to Amazon Alexa Echo’s eight. However, most people agree that the two appear to get the job done at least as well as Echo’s eight.The company has also done a great job of hardwiring the “Ok Google” command into the speaker. The speakers can recognize the command even when it is playing music and will then turn the volume down in order to better address your concerns.
Coming to the content accessible with Google Home: Well, it is true that being relatively new, Google does not have as many partners within the ecosystem has Amazon does. However, you can get most of your needs fulfilled. We can expect Google to match or even surpass Amazon, as far as service delivery is concerned. Philips Hue lights, Samsung SmartThings, Chromecast, all work with Google Home out of the box. It is also closely integrated with IFTTT, so you can expect the list of devices accessible with Google Home to be even longer.
The device’s close knit integration with Google’s native services is another big plus in its favor. You can listen to music through Google Play Music, news through Google News, take notes through Google Keep and so on. However, you can also chose different providers for any of these services and for example, can access YouTube Music, Spotify and Pandora, when in the mood for some beats.
Google hasn’t yet allowed developers to get to work on writing applications for Google Home — as Amazon did with Alexa for example, letting developers write swhat it likes to call “skills”. However, Google Home appears to be more than capable without any additional skills. Many things that would require you to install additional skills on a device powered by the Amazon Alexa, are supported by default on Google Home.
True, the ability of integrating third party skills may let Alexa surpass Google’s device at some point — however, it is very unlikely that Google — which has one of the most open ecosystems around — wont’t bring third-party developers on-board before such a thing can come to pass. Also, the fact that Google is way more encompassing — there is a pretty good chance that you use and Android and browse through chrome, for example — means that Google Home can offer you a highly personalized experience.
All in all, if you are looking for a device that sits quietly in a corner, is capable of playing music and all sorts of other stuff for you, can read you the news, take notes and control a whole host of other connected devices at your home — well, the $129, Google Home is a pretty decent buy.