Google Home just got way better – here’s why

Google revealed four new features for its Google Home smart speaker at I/O 2017. Here’s what they are.

While Google Home is one of the highest-profile smart home gadgets around, it slightly lags behind the Amazon Echo in terms of functionality.

The gap could be starting to close, however, as Google used its I/O 2017 keynote to reveal a quartet of new Google Home features.

First on the list is Proactive Assistance, which is basically Google’s way of saying your Google Assistant-powered Home speaker will now intelligently prompt you with useful reminders.

Tapping into all the information you share with it, Google Home will now flash when it has an update for you regarding your schedule.

In the example given during the keynote, ask your Assistant, “What’s up?” and you’ll be told that you need to leave 15 minutes early for your next appointment, due to traffic delays. It’ll also prompt you with reminders and fight status updates.

Related: Pixel 2

Next up was hands-free calling, which does what it says on the tin.

Google Home speakers will now be capable of making phone calls to landlines and mobile numbers – at least in the US and Canada, where they’ll be free.

This feature will be rolled out “over the next few months,” Google said, but potential UK launch details weren’t revealed.

The Mountain View-based firm also revealed that Home was getting Spotify and Bluetooth support, plus SoundCloud, Deezer and – in the US at least – HBO NOW.

The most interesting of these is probably Bluetooth, as it means you’ll now be able to stream music directly to Home from your iOS and Android device.

Lastly, Visual Responses will see Google Home beam query results to your TV or phone, so if you ask your Assistant for your next appointment, you’ll see your calendar on your telly or smartphone’s display. Or, as the photo above illustrates, the local weather forecast.

This feature will be fully integrated with Google Assistant’s multi-user voice-recognition capabilities, so it’ll serve up the right information depending on who’s asking.

Earlier in the keynote, Google unveiled a new AI photo technology, Google Lens.

Are you now sold on Google Home, or are you Team Echo? Let us know in the comments below.