At this year’s Google I/O 17, we heard all about the latest Google Home features and what’s coming – it was grin-worthy. As the number two player in the smart home assistant market behind Amazon Echo, Google desperately needed something to show that they really want to play in this space. The initial release was 1/2 baked and lacked basic functions that the market assumed would be part of the day one release. Google Home was also not very well supported in the smart home space. Well, that has all changed (or is changing soon).
Google’s I/O hit on a lot of topics from cloud computing, AI, Google Home, Photos, and Assistant. It became quite clear that their products over the next few years will hinge on their ability to strengthen AI and computer learning while integrating all of their platforms and products into a single ecosystem.
Google Home is starting to pull all of the pieces together – it will be your life’s hub someday. And, out beyond that, your relationship with Google’s AI and your friends will be one in the same. The AI will be you and you the AI. Buckle up.
For now, Google Home steps up its game starting with support for making hands-free calls. This was a must since Echo has this already. However, Google did it better. Not only can you call other phones (Echo only calls from Echo to Echo), it allows the call to appear to come from your number so the other side of your call sees you on caller ID. Sweet. Of course, it utilizes your Google Contact List or can search the internet for your favorite restaurants’ phone number, for example. Lastly, since Home supports multiple users, it will know whose mom to call when it hears, “Hey Google, call my mom.”
Proactive Assistance is coming, too. This means that Google Home will notify you proactively for certain events/conditions that are important to you. Folks are not giving this a lot of attention, but the possibilities are endless. The example in I/O warned of bad traffic before a commute. However, I picture this going to places like shopping, weather, reminders, alarm notifications, etc. Keep an eye on this one.
Google wants to use your TV more. It looks like Google’s answer to Amazon Show is to use your TV instead via Chromecast. I’m actually pretty excited about this. My primary living room TV is on almost all the time. With Chromecast and Home, you can now ask Home to show the weather forecast on the screen, for example. I assume this will extend to calendars and limitless other things that Chromecast doesn’t already stream.
SHORTCUTS, SHORTCUTS, SHORTCUTS
This is my favorite, and already supported, feature for Home that was announced at I/O. There will be plenty of posts about this one later as I tinker around with it. The great news here is that you can start creating complex Home commands (think smart home routines) and control them by creating a shortcut phrase. My first example will be for “Ok, Google. It’s game day.” Home should then turn on the TV, change channel to ESPN (harmony remote smart home integration), and change the color of my Hue lights to my team’s color.” That’s simple enough and now Home supports it with easy shortcut phrases!
Of course, Home supports even more smart home partners.
Lastly, Home now gives you the ability to add calendar and reminder events. FINALLY.