Google Home is to launch in the UK with availability set for 6 April and will cost £129, the company has announced.
Google Home, the company’s response to rival Amazon’s Alexa-based smart speakers such as the Echo, is set to launch in the UK next week.
The voice-activated speaker allows users in the home to chat with Google Assistant, Google’s artificial intelligence (AI) technology. The device can answer questions, control IoT-connected devices in the home, as well as play music, set reminders and alarms and take notes.
Many consider Google Assistant to be superior to its rivals in delivering responses, given Google’s pedigree in search and its numerous, hefty investments in AI.
The Google Home device integrates with several other Google services, such as Search, Maps, Translate, as well as Gmail and Google Calendar. Users can also get news briefings from the BBC, The Guardian, The Financial Times, The Sun, The Telegraph, Huffington Post, Sky News, Sky Sports and others.
That means users will be able to ask the device questions about weather, traffic, sports, finance, local businesses and more.
At your command
The device uses field microphone technology to detect a user’s voice in a room, listening for the command “OK Google” and then responding to requests and demands.
At a demonstration in London, Google representatives said the device will contain several ‘Easter eggs’, whimsical pieces of extra function that the company’s engineers sometimes hide in its services, in order to surprise those who make the effort to hunt them down.
“A combination of our natural language processing, machine learning and voice-recognition expertise allow users to interact naturally with the assistant,” said Suveer Kothari, director of product planning at Google in a blog post.
“And of course, we’ve hidden a few British treats for you to discover. Just try asking Google Home about its hobbies or favourite foods.”
Google Home to integrate with connected devices
From launch, Google Home will work with smart home products such as Nest, SmartThings and Philips Hue. Users can also integrate other smart devices using the IFTTT service. Tado has also confirmed that its smart thermostat will work with Google Home.
Multiple Google Home devices, as well as Chromecast Audio-enabled speakers, can be used to play the same music throughout the house with the device’s multi-room feature. The device will also control Chromecast devices connected to TVs, so that they can playback video content from YouTube or Netflix.
Costing £129, the Home device has been available in the US for some months and is £20 cheaper than the Echo. It is now available to pre-order at the Google Store online and will also be coming to Argos, Dixons, John Lewis and Maplin. The device also has interchangeable bases, priced at £18 for fabric and £36 for metal.
Google also unveiled a new Wi-Fi router, dubbed Google Wi-Fi which it claims with solve problems with Wi-Fi connected devices in the home. The units can be placed around the home to create a Wi-Fi mesh network to lessen the chance of dead spots.