It was on display in the company’s first product announcement, when Google’s artificial-intelligence boss, Vojtech Pavlov, demonstrated a “sensing” feature that can learn when a user is driving and send that input to his car. “Siri wants to have coffee but not take a shortcut,” Pavlov told the audience. “It thinks you’re drunk, and knows how much time you spent in the pub.”
At Google I/O last month, the company unveiled a new version of its smart home platform, called Google Home. Though it doesn’t offer all the same features as Apple’s HomeKit, it seems to play to Google’s strengths. It’s a service that’s also about building the next big thing around your own house — and it’s coming with a price tag of around $200 per home. That’s more in line with Amazon’s $99 Echo device, which is already the most expensive smart home device, and even more expensive than Apple’s HomePod.
We’ve spoken to several people who are familiar with the hardware in its latest prototypes. And while some of these are “very early prototypes” which are still in development and in the “testing stage,” it’s worth thinking about how these might look if built into an actual home. The Home device appears to take a lot of cues from Amazon’s Echo, for example. Unlike Echo, which does everything by voice, Google Home does most things by movement — even if it sounds like a lot of work. Google wants it to be a more useful and productive device at home than the Echo.
Google wants it to be a more useful and productive device at home than the Echo
At least one HomeKit feature is already going live in the final product — voice commands can be sent to your TV or your speakers through a Google Home app. This is not a huge feature, but it does open up a space where Google Home could integrate with TVs in homes, using existing home-control software and services like Harmony. In other words: Google Home could potentially work as your personal voice-controlled remote for any TV in your house.
One other thing HomeKit has going for it: it allows for devices like the Google Cast smart speakers, which allow you to control whatever audio you want without a hub. And unlike your TV, Chromecast can’t offer you anything but remote control over the Internet.
There is obviously a lot of stuff left to do in this space — the Home device is still in the prototyping
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