The highly anticipated Google Home personal assistant is finally here, launching to the public in Australia on Thursday the 20th of July. It's little wonder that tech fans have been counting down, with one in five Google searches conducted by voice.
The home speaker looks like, well, just a small speaker -- but does so much more than just play music. It's voice activated, meaning you just start with "Okay, Google", followed by whatever you need it to do. You'll know it's listening when the four primary coloured dots light up.
Powered by Google Assistant, you can ask it to read you that morning's stories from Fox Sports, ABC News, TechCrunch, Sky News and HuffPost, of course. Not sure what half a pound of butter is in grams? Ask it to do unit conversions (and even give you nutritional info or substitutes if you're all out of parsley) without having to wash your cake-covered hands. It also syncs with The Pixel phone and Google Allo.
The device can connect to up to six Google accounts, so if you ask it what you've got on that day it can tell your voice apart from other people in your family (or your flatmates) and give you personalised answers. Ask it questions like "Ok Google, tell me about my day" or "Hey Google, how long will it take to get to work?" and it'll get you up to speed without touching a device. Or, and maybe if you're home alone, use it to verbally Google all of those random things you wonder, like "Where is NSW?".
It's worth keeping in mind that there's no parental lock for young voices so you'll need to decide on what is accessible, and more importantly what isn't, as a household.
Of course it is a speaker for music, too. It'll play tunes for you from subscription services like YouTube Music, Google Play Music and Spotify. Or, use it to listen to your favourite podcast while you clean. It's also compatible with home smart devices from brands like Philips Hue and IFTTT so you can control your lighting just by speaking. It can also wake you up in the morning (or you can tell it to snooze).
The device speaks Australian (and has an Aussie accent), so you can ask it for Sunday brekkie suggestions or where the closest servo is. The brand suggests asking it "Are you going to Bonnie Doon?"
At the same time Google are launching Google WiFi, which is essentially a router. Some WiFi routers aren't built to support the increasing number of devices we use or high bandwidth activities like gaming or watching movies, so Google created this system to replace your current router resulting in stronger coverage.
Google Home will retail at $199, with Google Wifi selling for $199 for a single-pack or $499 for a three-pack, available from 20 July from The Google Store and selected retailers.
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