The Google Home looks to be the first true smart home device

19 May 2016

The Google Home device. Image via Google

It’s been in the works for a while now, but Google has officially revealed its effort to take on the surprising success of the Amazon Echo home assistant, simply calling its innovation Google Home.

The impending announcement of Google Home was one of the worst-kept secrets in the tech world of late, with it having been revealed last week that the search giant was looking at how to take on the success of internet of things (IoT) wonder device the Amazon Echo.

While it did not end up being called Chirp, as had been predicted, the Google Home device, at least based on Google’s demo video shown at I/O last night, looks like it could give Amazon a run for its money.

Customisable body

Orchestrating the project for Google is the company’s VP of product management, Mario Queiroz, who is best-known for launching Google’s biggest success story for devices in the home, the Google Chromecast.

Looking like an unassuming Bluetooth speaker, the Google Home’s obvious design difference is the series of four coloured lights at the top of it, which pulse to let you know that it is listening for commands.

Promises to be a music speaker, too

There is a little customisation thrown in, as well, with the speaker base being interchangeable with other colours, if that’s your thing.

Just like the Amazon Echo, the user can ask Google Home to set reminders, order goods online or play music, the latter of which, based off Google’s praise for its sound quality, would seem to put it ahead of the more functional Echo.

But, what makes the Google Home stand out, is that the company seems to be gearing it more as a true smart home IoT device, rather than as a personal assistant.

Chromecast gets a new lease of life

In its demo video, we see that, by issuing commands to the device, you can play music on other connected speakers in the home, or turn on lights upstairs.

Queiroz’s previous success story, the Chromecast, will also play a part in the overall use of Google Home, with voice commands allowing you to tell it to play clips on your TV through the Chromecast.

Looking at all these features, you’d have to say that the real advantage Google has over Amazon in this department is access to Google Now’s AI, which has proven itself to be one of, if not the, best out there at the moment.

So, how much?

The big question, however, is whether Google is willing to do what it has with so many of its other devices and release an API for developers to create their own features to use with it.

For the moment, however, Google says its features will be limited to ones it is very familiar with, which probably isn’t that much of a surprise given it’s a smart home device with lots of potentially hazardous access.

As for when we’re likely to see the Google Home released for you and me, Google has said it will come out sometime later this year, but no price has been given as of yet.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic