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Google Home Voice Activated Wireless Speaker Review


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Google Home might not have its physical makeover since its release date on 2014 but who cares. It recently acquired advanced software updates, and it makes consumers want to try them on.

On Google IO 2017, Home took the center-stage with its four major changes. It’s now packed with Pro-active Assistance, Hands-free calling, Bluetooth and Visual Responses.

Hands-Free Calling and Bluetooth

As Google rolls out this feature later this year, you can expect a revamp of your regular phone call experience. Hands-free calling allows you to import contacts from your phone.

If you want to make a call, there’s no need to lift a finger. You can just ask Home to do it for you.

The Home can make a call via a private phone number. If you have a Google account tied to your cell number, it can use your number. All you need to have is an active internet connection and no landline or smartphone is necessary to make calls when you’re home.

Another Home’s notable update is its use of Bluetooth to sync up other devices. It’s a feature of Home’s fierce competitor which is the Amazon Echo.

In line with this update, Google proudly announced that Home will now support free versions of Soundcloud, Spotify, and Deezer. All these and more with its other current music streaming services.

Visual Responses

This new feature of Home allows the speaker to send visual information to your phone, tablet or TV. This update parallels Amazon’s devices. However, Amazon only shows events on your calendar or what the weather outside looks like. Google Home sends data to whichever device you choose including Android Tv devices and Chromecast.

Pro-Active Assistance

This software update allows Home to check what’s happening in your day. It’ll try to bring you information before you need it. One practical example is that it can warn you about traffic delays on your way to work before you’d even ask for it. It can notify you ahead of time so you can leave for work early.

Google recently integrated a function that matches Amazon Alexa’s ability, the Voice Reminders. Now, English speaking Google Homeowners in Canada, UK, Australia, and the US can set recurring reminders using their voice. The reminders can be configured even months in advance.

All hands on Google Assistant’s ability to understand context. It has enough common sense that if you tell it to remind you to pick up your mom at the train station at 6 when you’re in bed, it’ll automatically remind you at 6 AM and not 6 PM. Sounds like not your average assistant, right?

All reminders set with your Google Home will also appear on your Android device if you use the software Android M. Also, even your Google Home has multiple users, you’ll only be reminded of your schedules.

Recent updates about Google Home include the smart heating companies Tado and Netatmo. The companies are bound to add support for smart speakers. This news means that you’ll soon have the liberty to use Google Home to control the temperature in your home.

Design

An ‘air freshener’ or a ‘vase’ is the blunt comparisons of Google Home’s frame.

Home has a full bottom and tapered top. Its standard design has a Gray fabric base with a rubber bottom that can be changed for a different color or material for around $20.

Google has two choices for the bases to match your home decor. They offer the metallic and the fabric.

The metallic bases are made of either polycarbonate or painted steel. They come in snow, carbon or copper colors.

The fabric bases come in three bright colors. They have Violet, Marine, and Mango.

Google Home’s minimalist design is intended to blend with your home’s surroundings. Its diameter is 3.79 inches (96.4 mm) and stands 5.62 in (142.8 mm).

With Home’s simplicity also comes its simple physical buttons.

Its top, flat and inclined surface is a touch-sensitive panel. It allows you to change the volume, play and pause music, and also activate Home with a single tap. You can also use the wake words ‘OK Google’ or ‘Hey Google.’

Once Home is activated, four multi-colored lights on its top will twist and twirl.

With the help of its two built-in microphones, Home does its job well in picking up your voice. It doesn’t work 100% all the time, so you have to speak clearly and loudly when you need Home to listen to you.

If you uncap the base of this smart speaker, you’ll find two passive radiators and a speaker. Considering Home’s size, its volume is quite impressive.

Audio Performance

Google Assistant, the voice and smart assistant inside the speaker is the main attraction. Surprisingly, Google Home can work effortlessly as an audio device.

Home has access to various sorts of streaming services such as Youtube Music, Google Play Music, Spotify, and Pandora. It works as a Wi-Fi speaker through its built-in Google Cast feature.

This feature means Home can play nearly all of the songs. Packed with more than 30 million catalogs, Google Play Music has the power to find even the oddest song you have in mind. And you can have unlimited access to music on Youtube. So far, Google seems to have the largest song library for any audio device.

Google Home’s drawback lies in its inability to recognize band names that sound the same with another.

Along with other Bluetooth speakers in its price range, Google Home comes off as the underdog. But to make up its disadvantages, Google Home boasts of its ability to both receive and send Google Cast signals. This feature means that Home is the only device that can stream music from your phone. It can send video streams to any Google Cast compatible devices as well.

Google Cast and Chrome Cast Performance

Google Home works well with your Hi-Fi and TV. You just have to set up a Chromecast with a name that’s easy to pronounce. You can command your Google Home to cast your favorite videos or songs.

This feature can be a bit tricky. If you pronounce your commands well, then Google Home won’t have any problem following you. If you fail to utter the words well, the process can fail.

Google Home as the Center of your Smart Home

Google Home can be connected to some devices nowadays. One of its highlights is the Philips Hue Lightbulbs, Nest Thermostat, and Samsung’s SmartThings platform.

Support for other third-party devices such as LG Music FLow and LIFX speakers will be coming soon.

Also, Google Home has plans for integrating with thermostats from Netatmo and Tado.

Recently. Google announced that Home would support new smart home systems including products from Wink, August, TO-Link, LIFX, Vivint, Rachio, Logitech, First Alert, Frigidaire, Anova, Geeni, and Best Buy’s Insignia brand. This integration gives more options in controlling how you develop your smart home.

Final Verdict

Google Home is branded to be the coveted center of the smart home. But it’s just not there yet. It has limitations in its language comprehension. Its list of smart home devices is still growing. Also, to cap the list of its shortcomings, it doesn’t allow many of Google’s core services.

Considering the attention Google Home receives, it’s not impossible that it’ll become a critical piece of the ever-expanding smart home.

As of now, Google Home is an advanced smart technology that has a built-in Google Cast, access to YouTube Music and the ability to save you time from switching the lights.

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