It is the gadget that brought voice search into the mainstream. Well, actually that was the Amazon Echo, but Google Home’s first significant update since its launch last October sees it close the gap further on its main competitor, in a bid to convince us all that it arrived at the party while Alexa was still choosing her dress and checking her makeup.
The updates were announced at Google IO 2017, the tech giant’s annual development conference, which recently took place in Mountain View, California. Google Vice President Rishi Chandra announced four significant changes – let’s take a look.
Perhaps the most significant change is that Home will now have the ability to communicate with other devices by Bluetooth. This opens a world of opportunity, for example meaning you now have a much wider range of speaker options available to you. Many users were surprised that this functionality was absent in the first place, particularly in view of the fact that it has been a feature of the Amazon Echo since its initial launch.
Hands free calling
The other major step announced by Chandra was a hands free calling feature. He explained that you will be able to import your contacts into Home from your phone, and then to make a call, you only have to ask.
Home can then make the call in a variety of different ways, depending on how you have the system configured. It can use either your landline or cellphone account, but the really clever bit is that as long as you have an active internet connection, it can make the call without needing to use a physical phone at all. Not so much hands free as phone free!
Proactive assistance and visual responses
The other two innovations might not have caused as much of a stir as the above, but they could still contribute to seducing more users across from the competition.
Visual Responses is a feature that has clearly been prompted by the Amazon Echo Show, which was announced a few weeks ago. While Amazon’s version features its own screen, Google’s allows Home to send visuals to the smart device of your choice, be it your phone, TV or laptop.
The other innovation, Proactive Assistance for Home, brings you useful and relevant real-time information to help you get through the day. It will keep track of things like traffic conditions and severe weather warnings, to keep you one step ahead.
The battle for the top spot
It is no secret that Amazon stole a march on Google in being the first to capture the public imagination in the voice search sector. These latest upgrades will help Google make more ground on catching up with its rival. And one thing is for sure, healthy competition between the battling giants means great news for consumers!