Google’s answer to Amazon Echo hitting Homes soon

26 Sep 2016

At home with Google Home. Image: Google

Amazon’s home help Echo has proved popular since its 2014 release, but it was only a matter of time before other companies followed suit. Google is next in line.

At Google’s upcoming 4 October product event, we’re finally going to see how the company has responded to Amazon Echo, with Google Home rumoured to be primed for release.

According to Android Police, both Home and a 4K Chromecast ultra will be revealed by Google. They will also introduce Google Wi-Fi, described as “a router that will allegedly be able to create a single, large wireless network using multiple access points”.

Future Human

Google Home

Company CEO Sundar Pichai feels home assistance is the future for technology companies, after he revealed that one-in-five queries on Google are performed via speech. Home was originally revealed at Google’s I/O in May.

Home will presumably be released in the US first, as per Amazon Echo, but just as the latter nears its European release, the race to smarten up our homes is really heating up.

At the moment, Echo is only available in the US and even if you get one into Europe, it relies on a US Amazon user account. That is changing soon though, with the UK (28 September) and Germany (28 October) next in line for a release.

Given these are first-generation home help devices, the technology may not live up to many finished article expectations that consumers have.

“[Echo has] been relatively successful in the US because it is so easy to use,” Jessica Ekholm from the Gartner consultancy told BBC earlier this month. “But for many, the question remains: why would they want a smart home?”

Given that the uptake in gadgets is promising far less than Echo (fitness trackers, smartwatches etc), curiosity might be the answer.

Amazon’s two-year head start with these smart devices should prove valuable, as the machine-learning underpinning the Echo (and smaller version Dot, to be released soon) is evolving with every interaction.

However, Google’s voice recognition software has been improving for many more years so, once Home is released, it may enter the market as a clear front-runner.

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic