Google Home goes on sale today

Today Google finally provided us with more
details on Google Home. Like the Echo, Google Home combines a wireless
speaker with a set of microphones that listen for your voice commands. There is a mute button on the Home and four
LEDs on top of the device so you know when it’s listening to you; otherwise, you won’t
find any other physical buttons on it. Because Google wants Home to be something
you could easily put into your living room, you can choose from bases in different colors
that will help you match the Home to the rest of your interior design. Google argues that it took its design cues
from wine bottles and candles and it will offer a total of seven different bases for
the Home. If the Google Assistant on Google Home is
anything like the first text-centric version of the service, then it’ll offer users a
mix of delight and utter frustration. As Google’s new Allo chat app has shown
us, the Google Assistant often can’t answer your questions. On the screen, that means Google can show
you links, but on Home, it will read out snippets from Google Search. A new Assistant feature, “My Day,” also
gives you a morning update with current weather, commute times and a summary of your schedule
(assuming you opt in). Home integrates directly with Google’s Chromecasts
and Cast-enabled TVs. For now, that mostly means watching YouTube
videos, but Google says it will soon support Netflix, too. As for music, Google Home will feature built-in
support for Google Play Music, Spotify, Pandora and others. Music on Google Home will also support podcast
listening and because it’s a Cast device, you can stream music to it from any other
Cast-enabled device. Over the last few years, Google mostly worked
on creating protocols for smart-home devices, and, with the acquisition of Nest, it signalled
its own intentions to become a major player in the market. Google has partnered with Nest, Phillips,
Samsung and IFTTT to support their smart home devices. Google Home offers the central living room-based
hub for its products and like the Echo, it’s relatively future-proof because its intelligence
is in the cloud. With its Cast protocol, Google now also has
a way to tie the Home to other devices, including its highly successful Chromecast dongles. That means its hardware — and especially
its microphones — has to work really well, though, and we’ll have to spend some hands-on
time with the Home before we can draw any conclusions about it. Google Home goes on sale on Google’s online
store today and will cost $129. It ships November 4.

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