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Unread 2016-05-18, 12:41 PM   #1
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Google Home Is the Potential Nail In Amazon Echo's Coffin





Google Assistant sounds like it could be just what smart home fans have been looking for in a digital assistant, but it’s pretty near worthless if it doesn’t have some good hardware to go along with it. That’s where the Google Home (previously codenamed Chirp) comes in.
The new device is a direct competitor to Amazon Echo, and it includes a speaker, always-listening microphone, and the ability to control all the smart appliances in your home.
But unlike Amazon Echo, which can be a little dumb when you ask questions, Google Home taps into the company’s stellar search algorithms to provide smart answers to even the trickiest questions.



The gadget also has a customizable appearance so it doesn’t look like a big dumb black tube, but instead like something you might actually want to keep in your home.
And you can string multiple Google Homes together in one location. Sort of like with the Sonos speaker series.
There’s no word on price or availability but you can sign up here and be notified when its for sale. Amazon Echo consider your days numbered...
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Unread 2016-05-31, 02:50 PM   #2
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Report: Google Home is Basically Just a Chromecast Inside of a Speaker





If you are at all interested in the smart home or at the very least, putting Google a voice command away from being able to confirm that the Oklahoma City Thunder completely choked against the Golden State Warriors after taking a 3-1 series lead, then Google Home should excite you. First announced at Google I/O a couple of weeks back, the Amazon Echo-like competitor won’t arrive until later this year and is mostly covered in mystery. We know its basic functionality and love the potential that this video shows us, but Google hasn’t exactly provided us all of the dirty details behind this new home hub.
According to a new report out of The Information, that’s OK because we may already be quite familiar with its innards. The Google Home, at least the current version that was shown off at I/O, is really just a Chromecast (similar microprocessor and WiFi chip), surrounded by a speaker, microphone, plastic casing, and some LED lights.
That actually makes a lot of sense, since the Chromecast was created by the man in charge of Google Home, Google’s VP of product management, Mario Queiroz. I can’t think of a better person or base to get you going on your next hopeful-hit home product. After all, the Chromecast is still Google’s most successful hardware to date.
Like the Chromecast, Google Home is designed for multi-room use using the Cast standard that has been built into speakers and TVs in recent years. From Casting Google-backed music and movies and YouTube, Google Cast has also seen many of your favorite media apps adopt the functionality (like Spotify, Plex, Netflix, etc.), making it one of the most powerful services on the planet, in terms of media streaming. And just think, by being nothing more than a souped-up Chromecast, Google Home can seamlessly walk into your home and start talking to all of your previously purchased Chromecast devices.
While not a ground-breaking reveal, the fact that Home may just be the next Cast-enabled device from Google is good news for you and I. I don’t know that I see Home being on the same ridiculously low price level as Chromecast, but maybe it’ll still hit that value point better than even Amazon’s Echo line. And again, it’ll just work with all of your other Cast-ready devices out of the box.
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Unread 2016-06-01, 10:37 PM   #3
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Google Home Will Come Equipped With Privacy Controls





Since Google I/O 2016, there has been a number of new Google-related announcements to digest. As well as a couple of new apps, Daydream and the Google Assistant, Google also introduced a new Google product for the home, the aptly named Google Home. This is a product which is clearly being seen as a competitor to Amazon’s Echo and one which will look to bring the Google Assistant technology to your home in a more uniformed manner by connecting all of the devices in your home.

Today, during a Code Conference talk, Google’s CEO, Sundar Pichai, did touch on Google Home and why it hopes Google’s vision will be better than those from the likes of Amazon and largely thanks to the conversational nature of the underlying Google Assistant technology. Of course, any product, Google Home or otherwise, which looks to do what Google Home offers, will raise some concerns on privacy and during the same talk, Pichai looked to explain how Google hopes to alleviate any concerns of the ‘always listening’ nature of Google Home. In short, Google Home will have what is basically an incognito mode. This will allow users to make use of the Google Assistant by asking Home questions but also requesting that the search data is not recorded. An “off the record” mode. Likewise, it seems users will be able to activate this feature in hindsight as well and by simply asking Google Home to wipe the record of questions asked. Presumably, much like you would do with a ‘clear browsing’ data feature on your smartphone, tablet or Chromebook.

While this is unlikely to alleviate all the privacy concerns around a device like this, it does at least highlight that Google is taking into the consideration privacy issues and is looking to address them before the release of Google Home by including some ability to control the data accumulated by a product such as Google Home. Just as importantly, it seems as though Google is looking to ensure that the experience received will be one which is line with what you would expect with other Google products, with features like incognito and clear browsing data being included.
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Unread 2016-09-23, 09:37 PM   #4
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Report: Chromecast Ultra To Cost $69 & Google Home Will Be $129





Google’s October 4 event is only a matter of weeks away now and although what will be announced has yet to be confirmed, this is quickly becoming known as the ‘Pixel event’. Largely because Google is expected to unveil two new smartphones, the Pixel and the Pixel XL. However, the expectation is that Google will also be announcing a number of other products as well, and a report which came through earlier today looked to confirm that one of those other products will likely be a new ‘Google Wifi’ router, one which will launch for $129.
Prior to that announcement though, a report did come through at the start of September which detailed that in addition to the Pixel phones, the October event will see the launch of Google’s first Daydream VR headset, as well as a new 4K-enabled Chromecast. That is, in addition to the likes of Google Home which was first unveiled back at this year’s Google I/O event. Now a new report out of Android Police further confirms that Google Home and the new Chromecast will indeed make an appearance at the event. In fact, the report goes into more detail by stating the prices for the two devices. According to those details, Google Home will launch for $129 (same price as the rumored Google Wifi router) and the new Chromecast will cost $69.

The latter of which, the new Chromecast, is quite a step up in price compared to the previous versions of Chromecast (which typically speaking cost around $35). Obviously, one of the likely reasons for this increased price is that the ‘Chromecast Ultra’ is expected to offer support for 4K playback. It is also now being said that the Chromecast Ultra will also support HDR. Not to mention, it will likely also have extra added-value features that have yet to become known. As per usual, this is information which is unconfirmed by Google and therefore, is always subject to change. However, on this particular occasion the information is said to come from two different sources, which inevitably does add weight to the likelihood of the prices for the two devices being correct.
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Unread 2016-09-30, 06:58 PM   #5
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Report: More Google Assistant-Powered Hardware Coming





Google is expected to launch Google Home next week at its press event in San Francisco. It was actually first announced at Google I/O earlier this year, as a competitor to Amazon’s Echo. Now the device is rumored to actually be launching and be available fairly soon after the October 4th event. But the hardware is only part of it. The Google Assistant that lives inside of Google Home is arguably a much bigger deal, and Google knows it. According to a report out of Variety this week, Google has already gotten a slew of partners on board to build third-party hardware that uses Google Assistant, and likely Google Cast – another major part of Google Home.
According to the report, Google already has some “of the biggest names in home audio” on board, who were at a secret meeting following Google I/O in May. They are allegedly going to have a number of products ready to go by next summer. Which may seem like its pretty far away, but it really isn’t, when talking about building new hardware. This is important for the Google Assistant to get used as much as Google wants it to be. This is also how Google is going to be able to take over your entire home, just like they took over the living room with Google Cast or Chromecast.

These hardware products include “speakers with integrated microphones and a connection to Google’s Assistant” which means they will likely have Google Cast support as well. A platform that Google has steadily been improving over the past few years, and have a number of apps already available. Which means the only thing standing in the way is hardware. Google Cast is pretty simple to operate, just connect to the Cast device from your smartphone and you can throw basically anything onto the TV or speaker (at this point, those are the only hardware products available for Google Cast).

Bringing in third-parties for hardware with both Google Cast and the Google Assistant is going to be a big deal, and it’s how Google is going to get Google Home off the ground. It’s rumored to be priced at $129, which is lower than the Amazon Echo, but still likely more than what most people are willing to spend on the device. This is where more options come in, thanks to third parties.
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Unread 2016-10-12, 07:02 PM   #6
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These Are The Apps Supported By Google Home At Launch





Earlier this month Google took the stage to unveil its latest products which, excitingly enough, have now been designed by the Mountain View-based company from the ground up. The announcement of the Pixel smartphones marks Google’s commitment to now have complete control over its new hardware division, which is an exciting development in itself. But the Pixel event was also the place where the company took the veil off the Google Home smart speaker regarded by many as an Amazon Echo competitor. Google Home is expected to hit the market on November 4th giving prospective buyers plenty of time to learn more about the product and determine whether or not it deserves a place in their homes. In any case, the idea behind Google Home is fairly simple: it’s a smart speaker powered by the Google Assistant and services, and as a smart device it is designed to work in conjunction with a variety of applications. Which applications exactly? Find the details below.
Google Home will be able to work together with a handful of applications, and at the moment the list of supported apps includes Google applications as well as third-party solutions. In the audio department, Google Home will be compatible with Google Play Music, YouTube Music, Spotify, Pandora, and TuneIn. In the smart home application department, Google Home will be able to communicate with Google Chromecast, Nest Thermostats, Philips Hue, Samsung SmartThings, and IF by IFTTT, and the last three applications to make the list include YouTube, Google Calendar, and Google Keep. All of these applications will be supported by Google Home at launch, meaning that users will be able to access and control them using the smart speaker’s voice-driven Assistant. In any case, remember that the product should eventually expand the number of supported applications as Google Home grows and more third-party app developers get involved with the platform.

But whether or not Google Home will be a success is another matter for another time. The company’s first smart speaker is somewhat late to the party and is already facing competition from similar products including Amazon Echo, but the impressive technology powering the new Google Assistant could turn the tables in the search engine giant’s favor. Either way, Google Home is set to hit the shelves on the 4th day of November and is already available for pre-order in the U.S for the price of $129.
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Unread 2016-10-24, 08:02 PM   #7
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Google Cast is now officially Google Home






With the introduction of the Google Home brand, the Google Cast app was said to be undergoing a name change, and that’s exactly what’s happening now.




A few days ago, we reported that the Google Cast app would be rebranded as Google Home, with several users getting a notification informing them of the change. Well, the rebranding is officially under its way, and there are some subtle differences.
Android Police
As you see above, when you open up the app, you will now see two tabs on top instead of three: whereas before, you had What’s On, Devices, and Get Apps, now you simply have Watch and Discover. The search bar on top has been removed, but instead it appears as a floating action button at the bottom of the screen. It is worth noting that the color scheme has also been changed to be more “material.”
The app icon itself has also been overhauled, and now it’s unmistakably Google. It is a small house with all the Google colors; curiously enough, however, the new Google Home app is not circular. Given the latest Pixel UI that we saw from Google, we thought Google would have streamlined all their apps.
The Google Cast app has come a long way. Introduced as the Chromecast app, it went through its initial rebranding when its functionality was expanded. Now with the Mountain View company’s slew of Home-branded products, it makes sense that Google wants to bring all Chromecast devices under one umbrella.
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Unread 2016-11-01, 10:13 PM   #8
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Google Home has a glaring flaw

Before you put Google's voice-activated virtual assistant to work in your home, there's something you should know about how it operates.




For a gadget we've been hearing about for months, Google Home still packs an awful lot of mystery.
It's no wonder: There are just so many things we can't know about a voice-controlled tabletop assistant based solely on marketing descriptions and closely controlled demos. How well will the device actually work in a normal and noisy household environment? What will it be like to interact with the Google Assistant without being able to see anything on a screen (especially when the software returns web results as an answer)? And how will the gadget handle incoming commands from multiple people with multiple Google accounts?
We'll have to wait until Google Home hits store shelves later this week for many such answers. But the last question -- perhaps the most common and pressing one I've heard asked about Home over these past several months -- is something we can address right now.
And the answer, I'm afraid, isn't something most people are going to like.
Google Home's account conundrum

I've been among those wondering about Google Home's handling of multiple users -- because as I try to wrap my head around what Home can do for my family that's different from what our phones already do, the main answer I keep coming back to is that it could make it easier for anyone in our house to complete "intelligent" tasks without having a phone nearby.
That could be particularly useful for visitors who might want to cast videos to the TV via Chromecast, for instance, or play music via our various Chromecast Audio-connected speakers. It could make it easy for anyone to control the ambiance-adding Hue lights around our living room. And it could be valuable in the future as our now 20-month-old daughter gets older and starts wanting to interact with the internet without having a dedicated device of her own.
Here's the problem, though: As the person who sets up the Google Home device, everything that happens through that device will be tied to your Google account -- no matter who's doing the talking. And when you think about that in practical terms, there are plenty of situations in which it could be less than ideal.
Part of what makes Google Home appealing, after all, is its tight integration with Google and the numerous Google services so many of us rely on. Much of Google's new hardware push revolves around the idea of having a single personalized assistant that knows you, learns from you, and responds to you -- regardless of where you are or what device you're using. But with Home, that personalized assistant is effectively opened up to anyone in your house.
That means commands like sending or reading out emails, setting and reviewing reminders and events, and accessing or adding to lists will always revolve around your personal Google account -- even when you aren't the one talking to the Home device.
Beyond that, any YouTube videos played via voice command will be connected to your account and will affect your future YouTube recommendations. And any searches or general questions asked of Home will go into your personal search history and then affect things like how the Google Assistant interacts with you in the future and what cards appear in your smartphone's Google app feed (which is influenced by your personal search history).
So wait -- all of this is actually for sure?

Yup -- according to Google. I dug around and found a new Google help document that uncategorically confirms Home's single account nature and lays out the realities of that in plain and simple terms.
Here are the key points, with Google's own wording in bold:
"Today, Google Home only supports a single account on the device -- but you can use multiple accounts with your music services."
So there is that one exception. But for everything else -- the core areas that are the most personal and impactful -- it's one account per Home device.
"A really useful assistant takes your context into account, and Google Home is designed to use prior queries to help answer later ones."
No "guest mode" or "incognito mode"; everything said to Home becomes a part of the associated Google account and affects how things work in the future. The only way around that is if you want to retroactively go into your Google account settings, find your Assistant history, and delete specific queries on a case-by-case basis.
"You can control the permission for Google Home to access your personal information like your calendar and Gmail device-by-device from your Google Home app."
That means if you don't want your Home device to be able to access your Google Calendar or Gmail data, you can block its access to those areas completely. But each area is an all-or-nothing switch; if you turn off such access for the device, it won't be there for you, either -- and that meaningfully reduces the value of having a Google-integrated product in the first place (the whole "universal personal assistant" thing -- remember?).
You could always toggle certain areas of access on or off occasionally, of course, depending on the situation -- but that's one more thing to remember to do (and after a couple of months, are you really going to bother?).
"Currently, we don’t have an ability to differentiate users by different voice patterns."
Now, that's what would have been spectacular -- "magical," one might even say! -- though it obviously does present some practical challenges. Maybe in a future generation?
"If someone is in the room, they have access to your Google Home. ... You shouldn’t leave your Google Home where people you don’t trust can access it if you have given Google Home access to information you consider confidential."
So, again, you can choose between substantially limiting what your Google Home device is able to do or effectively opening up your account to anyone who happens to be around.
It's a multiperson gadget that revolves around a single person's dataGiven that Google Home would presumably be in, you know, your home, the risk is probably low for any sort of malicious "hacking" (though take a moment to imagine how fun it'd be to mess with a friend if you had 30 seconds alone with his Home device). More likely, we're talking about inadvertent effects and limitations -- a kid playing around, a visitor or babysitter trying out commands without realizing the implications, or a spouse or significant other having access only to your account for many of Home's functions.
And that, I think, is the root of the problem here: the fact that Google Home is taking a highly personalized assistant and putting it into a device designed to be used by multiple people. It's essentially a multiperson gadget that revolves around a single person's data.
To be fair, Amazon's Echo -- Home's primary competitor in the tabletop assistant space -- isn't great in this regard, either. (The Echo does allow for multiple user profiles, but those are mostly just for sharing Amazon-purchased content from multiple Amazon accounts.) The difference, however, is that Amazon doesn't have the ecosystem of data and services that Google does. What's connected to your Amazon account is far less inherently and intimately connected to your life than the scope of things associated with your Google account.
In other words, all of the qualities that give Google Home a leg up on the Echo -- the various forms of integration with so many Google services and so much personalized Google knowledge -- are the same qualities that could also make it more problematic in practice.
Home, sweet Home

Is all of this to say you shouldn't buy Google Home? Not at all. This is still a very new category of device, and there's certainly more to the picture than this one factor -- however significant it may be. And even that significance is very much relative; depending on the specifics of your household and your overall situation, all of this may or may not be a big deal or anything you'll actually ever worry about.
With Home set to go on sale this Friday, we're bound to see in-depth reviews starting to show up everywhere before long. You'll want to consider those and the full scope of what Home is actually like to use before making any decisions about whether it's right for you.
But you'll also want to keep this caveat in mind -- because by venturing into uncharted waters with Home, Google is opening the door to unprecedented complications. And whether you're simply considering Google Home or already planning to use it, you should be fully aware of all the ways it'll fit into your life.
[UPDATE: In the discussion of this story on Google+, Yonatan Zunger -- the head of infrastructure for Google's Assistant team -- confirmed that this is considered a "known issue." He said that while he can't talk about specific plans or timelines, his team is "definitely aware" of it and "want[s] to resolve it stat."]
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Unread 2016-11-03, 09:43 PM   #9
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Google Home review: The Assistant steps into your living room

OK Google, what can Home do for me?




The Google Assistant was the big news from the company's I/O conference earlier this year, but it took months for Google's true Siri competitor to really arrive. First it was baked into the largely unnecessary Allo chat app, and then it showed up as a flagship feature on the new Pixel phones. Now Google Home is shipping, putting the Assistant a voice command away even when your phone is in your pocket.
Its inspiration is obvious: The $129 Home directly takes on the Amazon Echo. Indeed, many of the features here are the same. But Google is betting that the vast amount of data it stores, combined with the vast amount of data it knows about its customers, can make for a more useful product. It's a reasonable notion, but Home isn't quite ready to deliver on the promise of "your own personal Google" just yet.





Pros

  • Tasteful design
  • Access to Google's massive knowledge graph
  • Google Assistant is conversational and context aware
  • Chromecast integration has the potential to be a killer feature

Cons

  • Speaker quality is only so-so for music
  • Limited third-party app support compared to Amazon
  • A handful of expected features aren't available at launch



Summary

Google Home is a great way to show off just how smart Google is, but it doesn't feel like an essential experience yet. That's mainly because it lags behind the Echo in terms of support for third-party services. That makes Echo a smarter buy if you want to control smarthome devices -- but Home is a perfectly viable option for those who use lots of Google services.




Hardware

Unlike with a phone you carry every day, or a laptop you type on and stare at for hours, you probably won't dwell much on the Home's design. Still, it's important that it be unobtrusive and inoffensive -- otherwise you're not going to want to put it out in the open, where it'll work best. Fortunately, Home is small and relatively pleasant to look at, and it offers a few customization options to help you match it to your living space.
Much like Google's OnHub routers, Home is a contoured cylinder that reminds me of a wine bottle or flower vase. Its front is sloped, so you can see the array of LED lights that light up when you're talking to the device. You can also tap that front panel to pause music, or run your finger around it in a circular pattern to adjust the volume. Or you can hold your finger on it momentarily to make it listen to your voice if you don't feel like shouting the "OK Google" activation phrase.




Gallery: Google Home review | 13 Photos





The upper two-thirds of the device are white, but the bottom contains a changeable "base." Again, it's similar to the OnHub, which has different "shells" you can swap out. The Home's default accent is a gray fabric, but I also had a chance to try out a "marine" blue fabric and a copper metal case. They're super-simple to pop out (and you get a peek at the internal speaker setup while you're at it). Of course, you'll need to shell out extra cash for another Home base. Those start at $20 a pop.

Finally, there's a button that turns off the microphone; the power cord goes into the bottom and is routed through a little opening on the back. All told, Google made a piece of hardware that most people won't mind having out on a shelf or kitchen counter, and that's the most important thing here.
In use

OK Google: What can Google Home actually do? That's the most important question we need to answer in this review. First you'll need to set up the device, but that's a painless process, accomplished with the new Google Home app for iOS or Android. (The app already let you set up and manage your Chromecast devices, but it has since been renamed and expanded to include Google Home.) The software detects that you have a new Home device, connects to it, hooks it up to your local WiFi network and asks you to sign in with your Google ID.
Once that's done, you can start yammering away to your heart's content. Saying either "OK Google" or "Hey Google" makes the speaker start listening for your query. But what can it do?
The most obvious way to get started is by asking it the same sorts of things you might normally ask Google. What's the weather outside? How about this weekend? You'll need to say the command phrase every time you want to ask a follow-up question, but Home remembers the context of your conversation, so you can ask "When was Abraham Lincoln born?" and follow up with "When did he die?" and get the right answer.
The list of things you can ask the Google Assistant is limited only by your imagination, and that's one of Home's biggest strengths. Amazon's Alexa assistant has gotten smarter, but Amazon still doesn't have access to the same breadth of information as Google. Alexa doesn't understand context the way the Assistant does either. By comparison, Home and the Assistant are far more conversational.
So you have access to just about everything Google knows -- which includes everything Google knows about you. Provided you opt in, of course. But once you have, you can ask Google when your next flight is, or how long it'll take you to get to work, or what the next appointment on your calendar is. You can ask Home to add things to a shopping list, and that list will then show up in the Google Keep app.
There's a nifty feature where you can ask Home to tell you about your day and it'll give you commute info, your first appointment, the weather and any reminders you have set before jumping into a news broadcast. You can choose whether or not you want to hear this broadcast and then pick exactly where you want that news to come from. I have NPR and AP Radio news selected, but there are several dozen options, grouped into different categories. If, for instance, you'd rather hear sports and health news or a rundown of the latest in technology news (I should probably sign up for that one), you can.




Gallery: Google Home app screenshots | 15 Photos





It's great that Home can access info in your Google account, but there are a few catches. Even though anyone can shout "OK Google" and start talking to Home, the device can link with only one Google account at a time. So a spouse or roommate is out of luck in terms of getting any personalized information about their day. This presumably will extend to being able to send text messages from Home, a feature that Google has shown off but hasn't released yet. Also, some things that you'd expect to work right out of the box, like adding appointments to your calendar, surprisingly don't.
Since you can use only one Google account at a time, you'll potentially need to choose between your home and work accounts. Most of my schedule is contained in my work account, but I use my home account for just about everything else. This means it's basically impossible to get Home to tell me my next appointment. Hopefully, in the future, Home will let you include multiple Google accounts -- either for a single person or so that multiple people in the house can make the most of the device.
It's worth noting, though, that regardless of the use case, Google Home's voice recognition is excellent. Rarely did it misinterpret what I was asking (though it confused "play U2" with "play YouTube"), and ambient background noise didn't throw it off. Home reliably woke from sleep and responded to whatever I was saying. I'm not surprised, given how good Google's voice recognition is on the company's other products, but it's particularly important here.
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Unread 2016-11-03, 09:43 PM   #10
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Music and entertainment

Just like on the Echo, Google Home's speaker is good for more than just talking -- it's also a handy way to play music and podcasts. For now, Home works with Spotify, YouTube Music, Pandora and Google Play Music. That isn't a ton of options, but given that Spotify is the market leader (and Apple Music isn't likely to work with Google Home any time soon), I can't really complain. You can even use Home with multiple services, but one will have to be set as the default.
Once you're set up, Home recognizes a wide variety of music commands. You can ask it to play specific songs, artists or albums. With both Spotify and Google Play Music, I was able to name playlists in my library and have it play them back; GPM's stations work just as well. You can simply tell the device to "play some new music" and it'll select an appropriate playlist, tell you its name and start it up. Genres and even more vague descriptors work -- I asked Home to "play me some music good for focusing" and it started up the "Electronic Focus" station from GPM (my default service).

Once playback has started, you can ask Home to tell you more info about the song -- but, sadly, you can't ask it to add songs to a playlist or give them a thumbs-up. That's one missing feature I hope Google can fix, because otherwise new songs I hear and enjoy are just going to float past me into the ether, never to be heard again.
The only potential catch here is Home's speaker quality. It's loud enough to fill an average-sized living room with sound, but it's certainly not going to power a party. The speaker isn't stereo and lacks much of a low end, despite the two passive "radiators" meant to increase bass performance. It mainly seems suited to solo listening, or to have light background music on while entertaining. Initially, I was impressed with the sound quality for such a small device -- but that was before I compared it with my Sonos Play:1, which was superior in every way. However, for most people, Home is just as good as an average Bluetooth speaker, which means it's still useful.
While Home may lack the sound quality I crave, it makes up for it with convenience. After a few days of asking Home to play me various albums and playlists, going back to managing my music with the clunky Sonos app felt like a chore. I was almost infuriated I couldn't ask the speaker to pause for a moment or turn its volume down. And the good news is that Home plays with Google's ecosystem of Chromecast devices, so if you have a pair of good speakers, you can just add the $35 Chromecast Audio and start telling Home to play music through that rather than its own internal speaker. I'm already dreaming of setting up a few pairs of nice speakers with Chromecast Audio and having a multi-room, voice-connected music system.
If you have audio apps on your phone or tablet that work with Google's Casting technology, you can use Home as a destination speaker and start playing audio there as well. And Home can control video Chromecast devices too, although support for that feature is rather limited as of launch. You can ask Home to start playing cute puppy videos, for example, and it'll open up YouTube and start a relevant video. But asking it to play TV shows from Netflix, Hulu or even Google Play videos doesn't work yet. Google says support for third-party Cast apps is coming at some point, but for now it's far more limited than I had hoped.
Smart home / third-party integration

The last piece of the puzzle is what Google Home can do beyond just accessing Google information. Out of the box, Home can control smart home devices from Nest, Philips Hue and SmartThings, and you can use IFTTT "recipes" to expand Home's capabilities as well. I unfortunately have a pretty dumb home, though, so I wasn't able to give this a shot.
While Home works with some of the biggest smarthome options out there, it lags behind Echo. The Echo has a distinct advantage in that regard -- it's been on the market for much longer, which means Amazon has had more time to strike deals with more manufacturers. Echo works with WeMo, Samsung SmartThings, Wink, Insteon and Ecobee, in addition to Nest and Hue. If you're looking to have a centralized voice assistant to run your home, Amazon's option is the better choice right now.
It's a similar story with third-party services (or "skills," as Amazon calls them). Over the past few years, the developer community has embraced the Echo to a surprising degree, and there are now tons of third-party commands that work on Amazon's speaker, with more coming every week. It's something Google can't match just yet. The company definitely has ambitions to open up the Assistant and let you do things like book restaurant reservations through OpenTable or buy movie tickets on Fandango, but those features aren't live yet. You can book a car through Uber once you link your account, but that's about it right now (outside of the aforementioned integration with streaming services like Spotify and TuneIn).
The competition

If you've made it this far, it should be obvious who Google Home's main competition is. Amazon's Echo devices are time-tested and have a vast amount of third-party support at this point. Google Home undercuts the full-size Echo ($129 vs. $180), but the tiny and excellent Echo Dot only costs $50.
It comes down to how invested you are in Google's ecosystem and how patient you can be. I have no doubt that Home will see expanded third-party support down the line, but right now the selection is limited. Still, Home knows way more about your world than the Echo, thanks to Google's massive knowledge graph. And on the other hand, if managing a smart home is more interesting to you, Amazon's Echo has the advantage.
Wrap-up

Google CEO Sundar Pichai wants to "build a personal Google for each and every user," and the Google Assistant (and therefore Home) are key to that mission. But it's not there yet. Yes, Google Home knows some basic info about me, but it doesn't know quite enough to make me feel like it's my own personal Google. Nor does it have the third-party services that'll really let me customize the device to fit my home and my needs. If I had some compatible smart-home products and a handful of Chromecast devices, Google Home would be much more appealing.
Right now, however, it's little more than a toy. It's fun and occasionally very convenient to ask it questions and have it perform simple tasks, but it's hardly an essential part of my life. But Google Home is worth keeping an eye on -- it will almost certainly be more capable in three months (or even three weeks) than it is now. If you're someone who loves tapping into Google's mighty store of knowledge, don't sleep on Google Home. Just as the Echo got smarter and more valuable over time, I expect the same will happen here. And if you've already bought into Google's ecosystem, this might indeed be the home assistant for you.
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Unread 2016-11-06, 10:42 PM   #11
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Google Home: first impressions and thoughts


Google Home preorders have started arriving and interested consumers can head down to certain brick & mortar stores to pick one up starting today. I've been messing with Home for a little while and I feel like there's already quite a bit to say about it.
We know this post is a little late to the party, especially since it's not a full review (that's coming next week). There's no point belaboring the story; the review unit was lost, or possibly never sent, so ours came alongside other customers with expedited shipping. We're not going to rush a review just to get it out on the same day as everybody else, but we still wanted to post some initial impressions and open the floor to questions. I'll try to answer as much as I can, but there will probably be some subjects better left for the final review.


Design

Most of Google Home's product photos portray it with a notable presence; not in the way Google's OnHub was positioned as a centerpiece, but as something that's going to stand out from everything else on your desk or shelf. It might do that, but only if you're going to fit Home in among a bunch of dark objects, or maybe if you're a fairly extreme minimalist.
In truth, Home is fairly unassuming. It's not large, but it's small. It's white, but not a pristine ivory tower white. There's no glossy or shiny spots, everything is matte. The only visually significant element is a ring of lights that convey activity, either listening or responding, and even those vanish when nothing is happening. It's clear Home was designed to be visible when you're looking for it, but remain easily overlooked and ultimately forgettable most of the time. It's Matt Damon's character in Ocean's Eleven.
Setup

Out of the box, Google Home is basically just the base unit, a few instructional cards, and a power cord. The cord is about 5.5 feet (168 cm) and has a soft rubber cable tie attached for easy management. Placement is obviously important for something that has to remained plugged in and can't be hidden away inside an entertainment center.
Initial setup is a combination of the Chromecast Audio setup procedure followed by a few Google assistant steps and tutorials. For most people, the first stage should only take a couple of minutes, and the tutorials might double that if you take the time to do each one. If you rush through it and don't have to download the app, this whole thing can be configured in about five minutes.
One very cool thing I didn't expect is that Google Home also operates as a Chromecast Audio, so you can send music or podcasts to it from your phone just like any other speaker.
Talking to Google Home

Think about how you speak commands to your phone, or Android Wear, or just about any other device. Do you notice your volume goes up and your diction gets a little more precise? Yep, this is a thing we do naturally – but not without good reason, of course. Years of talking to phones and computers, and even watching Star Trek: The Next Generation as actors spoke up to command the computer, we've been taught to get louder when we talk to computers.
After 30 minutes with Google Home, I felt stupid for speaking louder. It wasn't necessary. The far-field microphones could reliably pick up my words in any reasonable situation, even with my voice at very low volume or music playing in the room.
After 30 minutes with Google Home, I felt stupid for speaking louder.
The speech recognition is, as we've all come to expect from Google, pretty spectacular. I can't recall any real instances when Home wasn't able to perfectly discern what I had said except for the times I stumbled over my own words. There was one problem I stumbled across that drove me crazy: I started a hands-on video for Google Home. Yeah, I know, I didn't think it through... Google Home woke up every time somebody said "Ok Google" or "Hey Google." This wasn't just annoying, but it raises some legitimate questions about abuse. I have no doubt advertisers will inevitably try to sneak commands into TV shows and music to have products added to shopping lists or to inject something into a user's search history to set the stage for future ads. Home desperately needs personalized voice recognition.
Interpreting commands

While Google Home is a spectacular listener, bordering on near-perfect, the natural language processing has plenty of room to improve. Don't get me wrong, I'm not suggesting Home or assistant are bad, only that they aren't good enough that anybody could mistake them as perfect.
I understand the complexities and implementation details, so I'm already accustomed to crafting commands that should be easier for a computer to parse. Still, from time to time, there were little language shortcuts and phrases that didn't work out quite the way I expected.
This got me wondering how it would work with less experienced people, so I asked a couple of friends that rarely use voice commands on their phones to give it a shot with Home. There were a few hiccups and I had to explain a little about how some of the commands are supposed to work, especially things like directing videos from YouTube to play on a Cast-enabled device, but both people were reasonably proficient in a matter of minutes. There is a learning curve, but it's really not that steep.
Google Home vs Amazon Alexa

Google Home isn't the first product of its kind and we all know it's directly competing with the Echo (and its siblings, Tap and Dot). I'll have more to say about it in the full review, but I want to make a quick comment about Alexa by Amazon. I haven't used the Echo itself, but I do own a Tap (the portable speaker with Alexa). I'm not going to do a comparison in this post, but I see no reason to beat around the bush on this. Spoiler alert, I really dislike Alexa.
Google assistant is uncomplicated and straight-forward
Google assistant (and Home) is uncomplicated and straight-forward while Alexa is frustrating. Yes, Alexa hit the market first and it has a much larger selection of "skills" and home automation integrations, but using voice to interface with it is jarring and unfriendly. Again, I'll say more about this in the review.
Capabilities

You can't look at Google Home without at least wondering if it will be one of those products you're going to buy and then toss into a drawer a few months later. It's not an easy question to answer, either. This depends on how you want to use it and possibly how much extra money you're willing to invest in additional gadgets.
I made a point of leaving my newly ordered home automation toys in the box for this post, sticking to Home as a (mostly) standalone gadget. The only external devices I used were Chromecasts (regular and audio) and an Android TV. I know a lot of people aren't ready to buy into the home automation trend yet, but they want to know how much value Home can offer on its own. I'll be back to discuss the home automation aspect in my full review.
By itself

For the most part, you could read any review of Google assistant and get a pretty solid understanding of what to expect from Google Home's capabilities. Popular demos involve creating timers, adding events to a calendar, and building a shopping list (stored in Google Keep). You can also get basic answers from web search and the knowledge graph. All of these things were possible with voice commands for the last couple of years (or more). There really isn't anything new here, but now an always-on appliance can do it.
Current list of supported Google services oriented toward tasks.
Unfortunately, there are massive and obvious gaps. You can't set reminders, send emails or Hangouts messages, or most of the things that interact with other Google services. This was a little disheartening, but I also have to wonder how often I would actually use these features. Seriously, this isn't how most people are going to use Home, so I don't want to be too harsh.
As a voice-operated remote control

Google Home begins to redeem itself when pressed to be something of a controller for music and video.
I don't have a better place to talk about Home as a speaker, so I'm going to do it here. Frankly, it's pretty good for its size. It obviously can't rival most bookshelf speakers; and the price is obviously not competitive with speakers of similar quality, but that's not really why people are buying Google Home. Nevertheless, it can actually deliver a little bit of bass and sounds much richer than the similarly sized Amazon Tap.
As long as you can connect a supported streaming service (currently Play Music, YouTube Music, Spotify, Pandora, or TuneIn), Home is very competent with music. You can control playback with voice commands that are absolutely understood while music is playing, and even control volume levels using voice commands. (I love that.)
it's really hard to pick which video you want with just your voice.
Video again shows off two huge weaknesses. First, we're really just talking about YouTube. No other video services are supported at this time. I like YouTube and watch it quite a bit, but it's not the only game in town. At the very least, I think Play Movies & TV should have been supported at launch. The other problem is one of selection – it's really hard to pick which video you want with just your voice. I will say this, if Google could have worked with Netflix to allow people to say "play the next episode of House of Cards on my TV," Google Home would have an instant place in many homes. And largely, this is the theme of most criticisms so far: Google should have worked out more integrations right from the start. I don't want to beat this subject to death, but I will have some more to say on it later.
Closing

I'll be spending all weekend checking out Google Home and adding IFTTT and some Samsung Smartthings to the mix. The review is likely coming on Monday. In the meantime, feel free to ask questions in the comment section and I'll get to them as I can.
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Unread 2016-12-14, 10:09 PM   #12
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Home automation right now is largely dependent on having a central “hub” to connect with all of your smart gadgets. Google Home can work as a hub, but at launch, it wasn’t compatible with a lot of smart devices. Today, Google Home added a pretty big smart ecosystem to the family of compatible devices.
Belkin’s popular WeMo brand of smart devices can now work with Google Home. This includes a variety of switches, outlets, light bulbs, and other gadgets. All you have to do is say “OK Google” and ask Google Home to turn on (or off) a WeMo device. The nice thing about WeMo is a lot of their products are very affordable. You can get a light switch for $45, or $30 if you own the Google Home.
[via Press Release]
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Unread 2016-12-16, 12:17 PM   #13
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Yesterday, Google announced that they were finally ready to expand Google Home / Assistant’s support for a variety of services, the first of which were Netflix and Google Photos. Joining the lineup are 35 additional services that can now be tied to Assistant, making voice control over Google Home possible.
  • 21 Blackjack
  • Akinator the genie
  • Anchor
  • And Chill
  • Argus
  • Ask Jelly
  • busuu – language learning
  • CNBC
  • Domino’s
  • Eliza
  • ELLE Horoscopes by The Astro Twins
  • FitStar Personal Trainer
  • Food Network
  • Genius
  • Headspace
  • HuffPost Headline Quiz
  • itcher
  • Lonely Planet
  • NBC News
  • NPR One
  • Number Genie
  • Product Hunt
  • Quora
  • Quotery
  • SongPop
  • Sub War
  • Tender
  • The Bartender
  • The Wall Street Journal
  • Todoist
  • Trivia Blast
  • Uber
  • Venturebeat News
  • WebMD
  • Wonder
Google Home was severely half-baked at launch, launching with only a fraction of the capabilities that rival Amazon Echo / Alexa were able to pull off. Support for these news services certainly evens the playing field a bit, but Google still has a long way to go before they can be crowned the king of the smart home speaker. You can certainly expect more services to be added to Google Home (Assistant) in the near future.
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Unread 2016-12-22, 09:15 PM   #14
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Google Home has custom light patterns when playing holiday music


Google has added multiple Easter eggs to Google Assistant, but this one is specifically for the Google Home. Tipster Ronald informed us that when you ask Google Home to "play Christmas music" or "play Hanukkah music," the alternating lights on the Home change colors. For Christmas, it alternates red and blue lights, and for Hanukkah, blue and white.
The pattern for playing Christmas music.

I tried various other holidays, but was unable to find other color patterns. Still, this is a fun little feature, and I hope Google adds new tricks to the Home in the future.
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Unread 2016-12-22, 09:15 PM   #15
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These are all the apps and services that will work with Google Home [Continuously Updated]


Google first talked about Google Home back at I/O, but the device became official at the recent October hardware event. The speakers didn't go into detail on all the apps and services that Home would work with, preferring instead to focus on a few specific demos. Now, Google has published a list of everything that works with Home, and we expect this will grow over time.

Here's what Google has published so far on its support site for Home.
Control by voice

Quote:
Audio
  • Google Play Music
  • YouTube Music
  • Spotify
  • Pandora
  • TuneIn
Smart home
  • Nest Thermostats
  • Phillips Hue
  • Samsung SmartThings
  • IF by IFTTT
Streaming Devices
  • Google Chromecast
  • Vizio
  • Toshiba
  • Philips
  • Sony
  • Bang & Olufson
  • B&O PLAY
  • Grundig
  • Polk Audio
TV and Audio (Chromecast or Google Cast TV required)
  • YouTube
  • Netflix
  • Google Photos
Tasks
  • Google Calendar
  • Google Keep
Games and Fun
  • Mad Libs
Control by app

  • Any Cast-enabled audio app
Upcoming

  • Wemo
  • First Alert
  • LIFX
  • Wink
  • TP-Link
We'll update this post whenever Google adds more services, so stay tuned.
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Unread 2017-01-20, 12:15 PM   #16
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The complete list of Google Home commands so far

The Google Home might not have the Echo's "skills," but there's still plenty it can do.
















Over the past year, the Amazon Echo has taken the world of smart home tech by storm. In November, Google finally released its long-awaited competitor.
The Google Home is a $130 smart home speaker that showcases the artificially intelligent, voice-activated Google Assistant. This clever bit of software lets you set timers, control lights and thermostats, play trivia games, watch YouTube videos and more -- all with simple voice commands.
The Home's roster of supported integrations will likely grow over time, as will its list of native commands. And compared to what you'll get with Amazon's Alexa, Google's commands are a little more flexible, so you typically don't have to search for the perfect phrasing.
Google hasn't released a full list of commands for Home, so we had to do our best to assemble and test everything we could think of. If we're missing anything, make sure to leave it in a comment so we can update the list as we go. Here's the (almost) complete list of voice commands for the Google Home so far.
18
Here's everything the Google Home can do


Summoning the Google Assistant

You can begin a conversation with the Google Home by simply saying, "OK Google," or "Hey Google." Summoning the Google Assistant on your phone works the same way, but your account will know to only respond on one of the devices, even if both hear you.
Conversational commands

The Google Home allows you to ask lines of questions that are connected. For instance you could say, "Hey Google, play 'Lose Yourself to Dance.'" Then, "OK Google, what album is this from?" Then, "Hey Google, play that album."
Even though you aren't using the name of the album, Google Assistant understands the context and supplies the answer.
Basiccommands

  • Ask for help: "OK Google, help."
  • Control the volume: "OK Google, turn it up" or, "Louder" or, "Turn it to 11." (Yes, the max is 11.)
  • Halt an action: "OK Google, stop" or, "Pause" or, "Be quiet."
Tools

  • Roll a die: "OK Google, roll a die" or, "OK Google, roll a 12-sided die."
  • Flip a coin: "OK Google, flip a coin."
  • Math: "OK Google, what's 354 times 11?"
  • Measurements: "OK Google, how many liters are in 4 gallons."
  • Time: "OK Google, what time is it?"
  • Location: "OK Google, where am I?"
  • Translations: "OK Google, how do you say [word] in [language]?"
  • International time: "OK Google, what time is it in [city]?"
  • Currency conversion: "OK Google, how much is 100 Euros in dollars?"
  • Alarm: "OK Google, set an alarm for [time]."
  • Snooze alarm: "OK Google, snooze alarm."
  • Cancel alarm: "OK Google, cancel my alarm for [time]."
  • Timer: "OK Google, set a timer for [time]."
  • Check timer: "OK Google, how much time is left on my timer?"
  • Recipes: "OK Google, how do I make [dish]"
  • Add to shopping list: "OK Google, add [item] to my shopping list."
  • Check shopping list: "OK Google, what's on my shopping list?"
  • Daily briefing: "OK Google, good morning." (includes personalized greeting, info on weather, traffic, and curated news stories)
  • Uber: "OK Google, order an Uber."
  • Tune an instrument: "OK Google, tune my instrument" or "OK Google, play an F sharp." (If you don't specify "flat" or "sharp," you must say "note" after stating which note you want Google Home to play, such as "play an A note.")
9
7 ways Google Home outsmarts Alexa


Search

  • Stocks: "OK Google, how are Alphabet's stocks doing?"
  • Weather: "OK Google, how's the weather today?" or, "Do I need an umbrella today?"
  • Traffic: "OK Google, what's the traffic like on the way to work?"
  • Words: "OK Google, what does [word] mean?"
  • Spelling: "OK Google, spell [word]."
  • Special events: "OK Google, when is [event]?" (Easter, for example)
  • People: "OK Google, who is [person]?"
  • Facts: "OK Google, how tall is [person]?"
  • Things: "OK Google, what is [thing]?"
  • Places: "OK Google, what country is [location] in?"
  • Animal sounds: "OK Google, what does [animal] sound like?"
  • Distance: "OK Google, how far is [business name] from here?"
  • Restaurants: "OK Google, what are the nearest restaurants to me?"
  • Businesses: "OK Google, are there any [business type] around here?"
  • Business information: "OK Google, how late is [business] open?" or "Is [business] open now?"
  • Quotes: "OK Google, give me a quote" or, "Give me a love quote."
  • Medical information: "OK Google, what is a torn meniscus?"
  • Calories: "OK Google, how many calories are in [food item]?"
  • Authors: "OK Google, who wrote [book title]?"
  • Inventors: "OK Google, who invented [item]?"
Media

  • Play music: "OK Google, play some music" or, "Play some [genre] music."
  • Play an artist or song: "OK Google, play [artist]" or, "Play [song]."
  • Play a song by lyrics: "OK Google, play the song that goes, 'Is this the real life?'"
  • Play a Google Play playlist or album: "OK Google, play some indie music" or, "OK Google, play [album]."
  • Ask what's playing: "OK Google, what song is this?" or, "OK Google, what album is this?"
  • Get more information: "OK Google, when did this album come out?"
  • Fast forward and rewind: "OK Google, skip forward 2 minutes" or, "Skip backward 30 seconds."
  • Play music through other speakers using Chromecast: "OK Google, cast [song] onto [speaker name]."
  • Play music on Spotify: "OK Google, play [artist] on Spotify."
  • Play music on Pandora: "OK Google, play [artist] on Pandora."
  • Like or dislike a song on Pandora: "OK Google, dislike this song."
  • Play music on YouTube Music: "OK Google, play [artist] on YouTube."
  • Play stations on TuneIn: "OK Google, play [station] on TuneIn."
  • Play videos on YouTube using Chromecast: "OK Google, play [video] on the [TV name]."
  • Pull up lists on YouTube: "OK Google, let's look at what's trending on YouTube on [TV name]."
  • Play a movie or TV show on Netflix using Chromecast: "OK Google, play [show or movie title] on the [TV name]."
Entertainment

  • Sports updates: "OK Google, who is [team] playing next?" or "Did the [team] win last night?"
  • Sports scores: "OK Google, what was the score for the last [team] game?"
  • Team information: "OK Google, tell me about [team]."
  • Movies: "OK Google, what movies came out last Friday?"
  • Casting for movies: "OK Google, what actors are in [movie]?"
  • Shows by network: "Hey Google, what shows are on [network]?"
  • News: "OK Google, what's today's news?"
Smart home

Google works with only a few smart home devices/platforms at present: Philips Hue, Nest, SmartThings, Chromecast and IFTTT. The roster of integrations will likely expand as time goes on. Even with these limited integrations, though, the flexibility of SmartThings and especially IFTTT allow the Google Home to control a wide variety of gadgets using 3rd-party triggers. For now, here are the built-in Google Home commands for smart home gadgets.
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  • Turn Philips Hue lights on/off: "OK Google, turn on/off my lights."
  • Dim Hue lights: "OK Google, dim my lights to fifty percent."
  • Change Hue colors: "OK Google, turn my lights [color]."
  • Control Nest thermostat: "OK Google, turn the temperature to [temp]."
  • Make incremental changes: "OK Google, raise the temperature 1 degree."
  • Customize trigger phrases for IFTTT. For example: "OK Google, let's get this party started."
Third-party Actions

Earlier this month, Google rolled out what it calls Actions for Google Assistant. These are third-party services and integrations that work much like Alexa skills, except you don't have to activate them one by one. Actions are enabled by default.
You can find the full list of Actions in the Google Home app by going to More settings > Services. You will also find sample invocations there, which will tell you how to interact with the different services available.
  • 21 Blackjack: "OK Google, let me talk to 21 Blackjack."
  • Best Dad Jokes: "OK Google, talk to Best Dad Jokes."
  • Domino's: "OK Google, talk to Domino's and get my Easy Order."
  • Product Hunt: "OK Google, talk to Product Hunt."
  • Tender: "OK Google, can I talk to Tender about drinks like an old fashioned?"
  • Todoist: "OK Google, tell me what my next task is with Todoist."
Easter eggs

  • "Hey Google, always be closing."
  • "Hey Google, what is your quest?"
  • "Hey Google, I am your father."
  • "Hey Google, set phasers to kill."
  • "Hey Google, are you SkyNet?"
  • "Hey Google, make me a sandwich."
  • "Hey Google, up up down down left right left right B A Start."
  • "Hey Google, do a barrel roll."
  • "Hey Google, it's my birthday."
  • "Hey Google, it's not my birthday."
  • "Hey Google, did you fart?"
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Unread 2017-03-03, 02:13 PM   #17
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One of the biggest features missing from Google Home is the ability to use it with multiple Google profiles. After all, it’s a home hub, and many homes tend to have multiple people.
Thankfully, we may be close to seeing it. The latest version of the Google Home app shows evidence that multi-user functionality is coming.
We’re not exactly sure how deep the functionality will be, but some early strings recovered from the APK show evidence that Google is readying a voice recognition feature to potentially know which user is issuing commands. It could also be that the strings — which pertain to “training” your Google Home to recognize a voice — are referring to a system for preventing TV, radios, and other noises from falsely triggering your Google Home.
Even if multi-user support only goes as far as issuing an OK Google command to manually switch
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Unread 2017-04-09, 08:12 PM   #18
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Listen up, Alexa: Google Home could soon act as a Wi-Fi extender

The next version of Google's voice-activated Echo competitor could reportedly double as a Wi-Fi repeater.



Taylor Martin/CNET











According to reports, the next version of the Google Home smart speaker might double as a range extender for mesh Wi-Fi networks.
Tyler Lizenby/CNET Google's been busy battling to catch up with Amazon's Alexa in the race to control the voice-activated smart home. Its first-gen Google Home smart speaker has already made some progress to that effect, and now, the company is reportedly plotting ahead to generation two.
According to a report from The Information citing "a person with knowledge of the product," Google is exploring the possibility of producing new, second-gen Google Home smart speakers that double as Wi-Fi range extenders. The idea is that each speaker would act as a repeater for your home Wi-Fi network and help to extend coverage to dead zones.



It would be a logical next step for Google after the recent launch of Google Wi-Fi, a multipoint mesh networking solution. Google clearly has as high hopes for that system as it has for Google Home -- by adding in mesh networking, it creates a good deal of crossover appeal. In other words, Google Wi-Fi owners would be incentivized to try out Home, and vice versa.
Google Wi-Fi is a multipoint mesh networking solution that's already on the market.
Josh Miller/CNET Perhaps more important is that Alexa doesn't offer anything like it -- at least not yet. Amazon has shown some recent interest in mesh networking with its $12.5 million-dollar investment in a system called Luma. It's possible that the next round of voice control competition could include mesh networking features on both sides. But with its own mesh networking hardware already on the market, Google would seem have an edge here.
Google didn't immediately respond to a request for comment on the report -- we'll update this space if we hear back.
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Unread 2017-04-10, 10:00 AM   #19
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Google primes Home for a major new feature: multiple account support

Google appears to be allowing different family members to access their own calendars and music libraries on the speaker.




Credit: Jon Phillips






While Google Home might be a great first-gen product, there’s a lot about it that still frustrates us. We’re still waiting for it to get support for reminders. We can’t yet add events to our Google Calendars. And we’d like it to integrate with more of the smart devices in our home.
But it looks like one of our biggest gripes is finally being addressed. Inside the app’s Discovery tab users will now see a message that says, “Multiple users now supported. Now, you and others in your home can get a personalized experience from your Assistant on your Google Home.” The feature doesn't appear to be live yet, but it shouldn’t be long before we can set up multiple accounts for our Google Home, breaking down a major barrier to its usefulness as a family organizing tool.
Support for more than one account was previously discovered by Android Police in its teardown of the most recent Google Home app APK, but this is the first time we’ve gotten any sort of confirmation from Google that it’s on the way. It’s unclear how the feature would work on the device, but presumably it would function in a similar way to how Amazon handles it on the Echo. When you want to access a different account, you would simply say, “OK, Google, switch to Lynn’s account,” and it would use Lynn's music library, calendar, email account, etc., to answer any queries.
Seemingly related to this imminent change is Google’s decision to move shopping lists from Google Keep to the Google Home app. Now, when you ask Google Assistant to add a new item to your list it will store it inside the Google Home or Google Express app, where you can easily purchase one of the items just by asking.
The ability to set up multiple accounts opens the door to creating master lists and reminders, and it also raises the possibility that Google could add individual voice recognition to the device so it could distinguish between family members who try to ask questions. As It stands, anyone who says “OK, Google” can summon Google Home.
The impact at home: Google Home is certainly a cool device that expands the presence of Google Assistant beyond our pockets, but we’re still waiting for it to do as much as it can on our phones. The ability to add multiple accounts is a great step toward turning it into a versatile device that can handle all of our family’s needs.
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Unread 2017-04-20, 11:52 AM   #20
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Google Home gets an edge on Alexa with multi-user support

Google Home finally gets a much anticipated feature that lets it know who's talking.















Google's personal assistant just got more personal.
Starting today, you'll be able to link multiple accounts to the Google Home -- the search giant's always-listening speaker. As before, if you ask the $130 Google Home to tell you about your day, it will give you info on your commute and tell you about events on your calendar. Now, if you significant other asks the same question, the Google Home will personalize its response for him or her.
How it works

You can link up to six accounts to the Google Assistant built into the Home via the Home app. Select "Link your account" from the devices tab, and Google will walk you through training the device to recognize your voice. Google prompts you to say "OK Google" and "Hey Google" -- the wake words for the Home -- two times each.
Use the Home app to teach Google to recognize your voice.

Google Anyone else who sets up an account will go through the same process, and Google will use this training to distinguish your voice when you give a command and respond accordingly. Google can play customized playlists, in addition to telling you about your schedule and commute. Voices Google doesn't recognize can still ask the Home to look up information, play trivia, set a timer, or control smart home devices.
Changing the game

This feature has been on my wish list for the Home since it launched last November. If it works as promised, the ability to seamlessly switch accounts via voice recognition is exactly what I'd hoped for.
This ability to distinguish between individuals sounds like it might let Google add some more advanced security features to the Home. For example, if it's good enough to tell your voice from someone else's, you could use a Google Home voice command to unlock an August Smart Lock or complete a financial transaction without worrying about a stranger giving the same command. Maybe some day, but a Google rep confirmed over email that voice recognition isn't robust enough to allow this yet.
Since it launched, the Google Home has been chasing the similar Amazon Echo in terms of what it can do. Amazon's assistant Alexa still beats the Google Home and the built-in Google Assistant in terms of its breadth of features. But although Alexa has more than 10,000 skills, it can't yet distinguish between different voices.
With this multi-account update, the Home is now positioned to be a customized personal assistant for your whole family in way that Alexa can't currently match. Add that to Google's recent expansion of compatible smart-home platforms, and the young Google Home could be ready to turn the tide in its battle against the 4-year-old Echo.
If you're in the US, you can expect to see this feature in your Home app today. Those in the UK will unfortunately need to wait a couple of months for multi-user support to roll out overseas.
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Unread 2017-04-20, 12:06 PM   #21
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Hopefully Amazon Echo isn't far behind this. I really like that feature.

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Unread 2017-04-20, 02:57 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BuddyLee View Post
Hopefully Amazon Echo isn't far behind this. I really like that feature.

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Agree! you can set it up with multiple profiles but that auto voice recognition is sweet, hope it comes to the echo.
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Unread 2017-04-29, 01:10 AM   #23
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Using multi-user media controls on Google Home: How it works


Now that Google has enabled multi-user support for Google Home, what can you do with your media? After a little research and a chat with Google Home support, I have the answer to that question. Keep in mind, this is the situation as of today. As we always do, we hope for these features to be fine-tuned and expanded.
This article assumes each user has already linked up to the Google Homes in their household. This is an easy process that the Google Home app will walk you through for each multi-user equipped device.

Playing music

Google will let each user have their own default music provider. No more sharing your Google Play Music. Tapping the “Feeling Lucky?” card will no longer subject you to periodic blasts of your housemate’s heavy metal music mixed in with your preferred history of listening to R&B tracks. With this new feature, your Home will use your preferred service when you make a music request. You will still be able to use other linked services, including those attached to other users' accounts, by simply adding the name of the service to your request.

Each user can select their default music provider.
Let's go through some examples. Let me introduce you to Carolina and Eric, roommates living in a condo with three Google Homes. Carolina's default music service is Google Play Music and Eric's is Spotify. Each have their own premium accounts. Here are some sample requests and what would result from them.
Request Result Carolina requests a playlist without specifying a service Home plays the playlist using her Google Play Music account Carolina requests a playlist and ends it with "on Spotify" Home plays the playlist using Eric's Spotify account Eric requests a playlist without specifying a service Home plays the playlist using his Spotify account Eric requests a playlist and ends it with "on Google Play Music" Home plays the playlist using Carolina's Google Play Music account As you can see, one of the great benefits here is that both users have access to the other's premium account. Carolina and Eric can play each other's playlists if they know the playlist's name. Service generated playlists are also available to both.
In addition to these services, you can also link Pandora (free or premium) and YouTube Music to users' accounts.
During my testing, I discovered an interesting flaw (or feature?) that Google was unaware of. I found out that, using my example users, if Eric is playing a track on Carolina's Google Play Music and tells Home that he likes it, it will be added to Carolina's "Thumbs Up" list. It works the same for Spotify. If Carolina says she likes a song on Eric's Spotify account, it's marked as liked on Eric's account. Both of these actions will affect the associated playlist and influence auto playlists. A representative at Google Support told me they were sharing this issue I encountered with their developers. At the time of this writing, the flaw still exists - so be nice to the other users in your household or find your "Thumbs Up" playlist full of hated tracks.

Eric's heavy metal taste infiltrates Carolina's preference for pop hits.
Playing YouTube videos on Chromecast

When it comes to video, the situation is similar to music but the amount of voice control is limited. Making requests to play videos from YouTube with no further specification will play media based on the individual's YouTube account. Each individual's watch history will be updated accordingly. There is no crossover. Furthermore, you can't like or dislike videos through the Home, so that mix of tastes you see with music won't happen.
Playing movies and TV shows on Chromecast

Currently, the only premium movie and TV service supported is Netflix. Your Home will play from your linked Netflix service or, if you didn't link one, it will play from the Netflix account of another linked user. In other words, Netflix is shared across all users. You can't like or dislike Netflix media from the Home. Simple.
Playing media on linked speakers and televisions

Here is where it the doors are wide open. All users' speakers, TVs, and speaker groups are shared across all users. By trailing your request with a specific device or named group, the media will be directed there. If Carolina has defined a speaker group named "Chill Zone" that includes her Chromecast audio connected to her stereo receiver and the Home in her bathroom, any user can send media to that group. That sounds like a great way for Eric to wake her up at 5:00am just for fun.
Guests and unlinked users in your house

If an unlinked user, such as a visitor, makes a media request, the Google Home will use the service associated with the first person who linked their voice to that Google Home. The media services connected by this person become the default services. If a request is made using a service that the first user has not set up, the service set up by another user will be used.
Carolina was the first to link her voice on each Google Home. She doesn't have a Netflix account but Eric has linked his Netflix account in the Google Home app. If a request to play music is made without specifying a service, it will play from Carolina's Play Music account. If a request to play a movie on Netflix is made, it will use Eric's Netflix account.
The Google Home app has a separate process for linking your voice.
Here is where it seems Google has dropped the ball (again?). There is no way to identify who the first linked voice belongs to using the Home app. Google's help page literally tells you to poll all the users in your house to determine who linked their voice first:
This user is likely the person who set up Google Home, but may not be if that person hasn't linked their voice. There is no way to tell who first linked their Google Account and voice from within the Google Home app. You must ask all linked users when they linked their Google Account and voice to be sure who is the first person. Here's how to manage linked users.
So, if you are adding Homes to your household over time, you'll have to call a meeting and do an investigation if you happen to have forgotten this important fact. Alternatively, you can reset your Homes and systematically set them up again.
Once you have everything set up, the media sharing is a nice feature that moves Google Home another step forward. Just don't ask it to remind you to buy milk. It's still learning.
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Unread 2017-05-09, 10:50 PM   #24
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Google Home now works with smart home products from iDevices, NuBryte, and more


The Google Home only worked with a handful of services at launch, but over the past few months, we've seen more and more services start to work with it. Starting today, select products from iDevices, NuBryte, Universal Devices, and MobiLinc will be compatible with the Google Home (and anything else with Google Assistant).
iDevices sells a variety of smart home products, including light switches, wall outlets, and lights. All of iDevices' products are rather expensive, but at least you don't need a hub for them. Two of the company's products stand out as pretty cool - a rain-tight outdoor smart plug, and an adapter to make any light bulb 'smart' (but buying Hue light bulbs would probably work better in most cases).
NuBryte's main product is the TouchPoint, which replaces the light switch in a room with a touchscreen display. The TouchPoint can control lighting, view camera feeds, work as an intercom, and display weather and calendar information. However, it hasn't received great reviews.
Universal Devices sells INSTEON lighting controllers, like this one, primarily for business or enthusiast use. Finally, MobiLinc offers apps for controlling specific smart home systems, such as ones using Universal Devices controllers.
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Unread 2017-05-17, 02:07 PM   #25
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All Connected Roomba Robots Now Controllable with Google Home


Starting today, iRobot says that all of its connected Roomba robots are now compatible and controllable with Google Home and the Google Assistant. That interaction can happen on the Roomba 980, 960, 690, and soon-to-be-release 890.
With Google Assistant compatibility, you can tell your Roomba to clean your house, stop cleaning, or to go back to its home. A sample command would be, “OK, Google, ask Roomba to start cleaning.” Simple, right?
If you own a compatible Roomba and a Google Home, give it a shot.
To see the list of commands, check out the iRobot site.
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