The Google Home release date could be revealed later today, so here’s a complete guide to Google’s first smart speaker.
What is Google Home?
Google Home is a voice-controlled speaker, which means you can tell it what to do without ever having to touch it. Very sci-fi, right?
What’s most exciting about Google Home is that it will be powered by Google Assistant, which is Google’s new, smart digital assistant. it’s a bit like Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana, or Amazon’s Alexa, and will help you get things done.
Google Home – Release Date
Google Home was announced on May 18, 2016, at Google’s I/O developer conference. Unfortunately, Google has kept a lid on release details ever since, leaving us all in the dark about when we can buy it.
Then, in autumn, Google finally announced a press event for October 4 (that's today!), at which we’re expecting to see much more of Google Home, as well as probable launches for the new Google Pixel phone, and maybe a 4K Chromecast too.
The October 4 event kicks off at 17:00 (BST) in London, and runs right through to 19:30. We’ll be covering the proceedings live as they happen, so stay tuned to TrustedReviews for the latest. You can also watch the livestream here:
It’s worth noting, however, that Google hasn’t confirmed that Home will make an appearance at the event. And even if it does, there’s no guarantee that we’ll be given details on release.
Google Home – Design
We still don’t have exact specifications regarding dimensions or weight, but we do know what Google Home looks like.
It’s basically a small, minimalist cylinder with an angled top. The bottom part of the casing is modular, and can be swapped out for other shells of varying colours. And the top portion is white, with four LED lights built into the slanted surface that will tell you when Google Home is turned on.
Overall, it looks very pretty, and would look just fine as an ornament sitting on a side-table, cabinet, or mantlepiece. That’s good news, as Google wants you to have several of these dotted around your home à la Sonos.
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Google Home – Features, Software, and Google Assistant
First and foremost, Google Home is a speaker, so naturally it will play music. This is expected to work just like the Chromecast Audio, insofar as it will stream audio over Wi-Fi, using your voice or smartphone as a control mechanism. It’s going to be integrated with Google Play Music, but we’d expect other services will also be supported. You’ll also be able to connect to multiple Home speakers at the same time too, so you should be able to create a Sonos-style multi-room system with relative ease.
You’ll also get some home automation features, which means you’ll be able to control various connected products around the house. Unfortunately, Google hasn’t announced compatible products – more on that on October 4, we’re guessing. But for contrast, the Amazon Echo works with products like the Nest Thermostat and Philips Hue lightbulbs; expect similar functionality with Google Home.
But perhaps the most interesting feature of Google Home is Google Assistant. It’s based on the Google Now digital assistant, but finally adds two-way conversation functionality – that’ll be based on Google’s natural language processing algorithm. Using Google Assistant, you’ll be able to find information, check the weather, and create reminders, alarms, and notes.
If you want to try out an early version of Google Assistant, you can give it a go on the recently launched Allo app.
Google Home – Hardware and Specs
There’s not much we know on the hardware front just yet, save for the fact that it’s based on Google’s Chromecast technology. That’s led to some speculation that Google will kit Google Home out with the same components featured in the Chromecast, including the same processor and Wi-Fi chip.
The first Chromecast featured Marvell’s Armada 1500 Mini chip, while the second Chromecast (and Chromecast Audio) used the more powerful Marvell Armada 1500 Mini Plus – both of these are based on ARM chip designs. Marvell also offers two more powerful chips – the 1500 Pro4K and the 1500 Ultra – which may be destined for Google Home. It’s also almost guaranteed that one of these chips will feature in the rumoured Chromecast 4K.
Other hardware components include a microphone and a mute button.
Google Home – Alternatives
The only proper alternative to Google Home right now is Amazon Echo. That’s Amazon’s digital assistant, which launched in the UK in September 2016 – but it’s been available in the US since late 2014.
But Apple is also rumoured to be developed an Amazon Echo and Google Home rival. The device, which doesn’t have a name yet, has reportedly left R&D and is now being prototype tested in secret at Apple HQ. The speaker is expected to make use of Apple’s ‘Siri’ digital assistant, and is likely to integrate with third-party smart home gadgets.
Google Home – Price
It’s tough to guess at the Google Home price because it’s the first time Google has launched a smart speaker. The only leak we’ve seen so far comes via Android Police, which puts the price at $129 – that’s about £99 with direct currency conversion.
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What do you think of Google Home? Let us know in the comments.