Google Home is the tech giant’s answer to the question of how to bring you the smart home of tomorrow today – or, at least, later this year.
The device, which was revealed at Google’s I/O conference in May 2016, leverages Google’s latest virtual assistant to provide you with a real-world search tool, media centre, and IoT controller all in one.
The device competes directly with Amazon Echo – as well as Apple HomeKit.
Google Home is due later in 2016. Here you will find all the latest information about the device, including its features, colour variants and the latest news.
- Google Home is a voice-activated smart assistant for your home
- It is due to launch later in 2016
- It may match the retail price of the Amazon Echo
Google Home news
07/03/2017: Google Home spouts Obama conspiracy theory
Google Home relays commentary of a planned coup by Barack Obama when asked whether the ex-US president is panning such action, according to the BBC‘s Rory Cellan-Jones.
When the technology correspondent asked the home robot the question it came back with the response: “Not only could Obama be in bed with the Communist Chinese, but Obama may in fact be planning a Communist coup d’etat at the end of his term in 2016!”
Cellan-Jones was trying out Google’s ‘snippets’ feature, which offers up a sentence or two of a search result rather than just the link to the source. However, online, the snippets are accompanied by more context than Google Home provides, making it a rather worrying source of information if people were to rely solely on the talking bot rather than carrying out deeper research.
When Google was questioned about the dubious suggestion, the company explained its Google Home robot takes its chatter from sources on the search engine and sometimes the algorithm selects sources that aren’t reliable.
“Featured Snippets in Search provide an automatic and algorithmic match to a given search query, and the content comes from third-party sites,” Google said in a statement. “Unfortunately, there are instances when we feature a site with inappropriate or misleading content.
“When we are alerted to a Featured Snippet that violates our policies, we work quickly to remove them, which we have done in this instance. We apologise for any offence this may have caused.”
01/03/2017: Google Home will debut by June 2017
The AI-powered Google Home personal assistant will go on sale in the UK in June, making it one of the first markets to snap up the speaker system.
Google Home competes directly with Amazon Echo, powered by Alexa AI technology, although Google Home uses Google Assistant, which can also ping back answers to questions using contextually-aware insights. For example, it can apply information you have offered it via Google’s other suite of apps to make the suggestions more relevant to you.
“The trick… in these products is trying to really understand what people are asking for,” Google hardware boss Rick Osterloh told the BBC at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.
“We’ve got so much history with people using our search products and people using voice queries through Android phones… that we’re able to much better answer these types of questions. All this data really helps in us making sure we understand what the user is looking for.”
Although Google Home was announced in the US back in 2015, it’s laid pretty dormant on this side of the pond until the announcement this week, leading many to believe it wouldn’t be coming out in the UK at all.
Google explained Home will launch in other markets too, but has not detailed which territories it will be available in, or when.
18/05/2016: Google Home smart IoT device announced
Google has unveiled Google Home, a competitor to Amazon’s Echo IoT device and personal assistant.
Google Home uses the new cloud-based Google Assistant, a voice assistant like Siri and Cortana, which has been designed for use in domestic settings.
The jug-sized device will have a customisable base with a choice of different colours and finishes from metal to fabric.
Similar to Google Now, you’ll be able to use Google Home to control music playback and control streaming video playback on a linked TV thanks to built-in support for the familiar Google Cast protocol introduced in the Chromecast.
Google Home release date
A firm release date has not yet been announced from Google, other than that it is coming “later this year”. That will likely be in time for the Christmas shopping season, but may well be sooner.
Many of the features announced for the next version of Google’s mobile OS, Android N, appear to be ready to go, so Google Home could theoretically be in a similar position.
No countries have yet been announced for Google Home, but judging from Google’s roll out of other products and services, the US will almost certainly be first. If Google does decide to stagger the device’s release, the UK shouldn’t have to wait too much longer after its US launch, judging from its previous launches.
Google Home price
Price is something Google has kept quiet on for the moment. However, based on its direct competitor, the Amazon Echo, which costs $179.99 (£120) in the US, Google may look to match or undercut its rival on price.
Amazon Echo is not yet available outside of the US, so there’s more incentive for Google to offer an affordable smart home device to UK and European consumers.
There is a chance it may prove pricier, however. In the UK, the third generation Nest thermostat (owned by Google parent, Alphabet) has a RRP of £199, so Brits may get the short straw on price yet again.
We’ve update this page will the official prices for Google Home as they are announced.
Google Home features
Google Home is a web-enabled digital assistant to help you complete day-to-day tasks and entertain yourself at home.
The voice-activated product is powered by Google Assistant, the company’s latest breakthrough in conversational artificial intelligence. Similar to Google Now, you can use the jug-sized device to play music and control streaming video playback of films and TV programmes via built-in support for the Google Cast protocol.
You can also ask questions and get answers, just as you do on your smartphone. You could check cinema showtimes, check your flight details and plenty more, according to Google.
In addition to entertainment and answering questions, the device also acts as a smart IoT controller. So you could set a timer for you oven. On a more advanced level – and with further set up required – Google says you could turn on your lights, among other things. Google Home is also planned to have integration with other smart home IoT systems, starting with the Google-owned Nest, though this feature is set for the future and isn’t expected to be supported at launch.
Google Home versions, colours and accessories
Google Home should come in a variety of different base colours. These bases will be customisable, so you can choose the base that best suits the room your Google Home unit is in.
Some of the bases revealed so far include metallic and fabric finishes in different shades and patterns.
There’s no word yet on the price for these base or way the different variants can be browsed, but expect more on this close to launch.
If you’d like to find out more about how Google Home stacks up against its rivals, Amazon Echo anad Apple HomeKit, see our comparison article.
You can find the official Google Home site here.