The Unveiling

Mario Queiroz, Google’s Vice President of product management, yesterday, announced the introduction of its latest gadget, the Google home. This was done during Google’s’ annual I/O conference in San Francisco, which was kicked off by the CEO, Sundar Pichai. Pichai talked about the Google Assistant, which is an upgrade of the existing Google Now. According to him, the virtual assistant would be able to answer questions asked vocally, with a more natural voice interaction. He gave exemplary scenario where the user can ask of the Director of the movie “The Revenant” and as follow up questions like asking it to show he’s  (the director’s) other movies. The Google Assistant is going to be foundation upon which the Google Home would built.

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Google Home, as described in their website is “is a voice-activated home product that allows you and your family to get answers from Google, stream music, and manage everyday tasks”. With a shape roughly similar to that of a teardrop, the device comes with a white coloured body (Customizable on demand) with no visible button. It is Wi-Fi enabled and has a built-in speaker. One of its impressive features, is its ability to connect to Chromecast devices. By doing this, the user would be able to request for a music of choice or even display graphical search results on a connected TV.

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Google Home vs. Amazon Echo

The Google Home, shares similar features with Amazon Echo. Functionalities such as music streaming, IoT integration and question answering already exist in the Amazon Echo. The entry of Google Home into the Tech market would put an end to the monopoly presently enjoyed by Amazon Echo. However, Google Home would have to put up a good fight in this “battle of the always-listening virtual assistant”, since Amazon Echo has been in demand since 2014 and performs its role satisfactorily.   By constantly updating and adding to its features, the volume of things that can be done via Echo keeps increasing. For example, ordering for a pizza, contacting a Uber cab for pickup and playing games are just few of the numerous tasks that can be accomplished with this device.

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Advantages of Google Home over Amazon Echo

Google, knowing the stakes at hand has not come to be the second best in this rivalry. By fortifying the Google Home with features such as the integration the existing Google Assistant to give a natural conversational feel is an attribute that will outdo the Echo.  Another impressive feature of the Google Home is the ability to sync with other Google Home devices to create stereo sound across the user’s home, an action that’s impossible with the Amazon echo. This feature would allow the user to play the same song across the house on all devices, play separate songs on each device or even create a music group, enabling the user to effortlessly set up music for an awesome party.

The Google Home, also has a unique ability to answer follow up questions, as demonstrated during the I/O developer conference, where a child asked Home these questions, in this particular order;

“How many stars are in the galaxy?”

“Which one is closest?”

“Show me what it looks like on the TV.”

The device was able to answer all questions, and even pull out an image of the closest star system on the TV using a Chromecast streamer. This presentation has shown that the Google Home via the Google assistant portrays more flexibility and responsiveness compared the Amazon Echo’s Alexa, the personal assistant built into Amazon’s Echo devices.

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Challenges to be faced by Google Home

Despite having really impressive features that overshadows that of the Amazon Echo, becoming the top dog in the “Always-Listening Virtual Assistant” category won’t be an easy feat. The fact that Amazon Echo has been a standalone device for about two years has given it the means of building that much needed trust and confidence to deliver among its users. Over the years, Echo has been able to acquire numerous smart home partnerships, such as Nest, Ecobee, SmartThings, and more. Google home, on the other hand, presently has one smart-home control; the Nest Learning Thermostat, own by Google’s now parent company, Alphabet. However, promises have been made that the Google Home would be able with smart lights, thermostats and switches.

The Winner?

One can’t really say which of these devices would spear head the market for the Always-Listening Virtual Assistant, only time and the consumers would tell.

Picture Credit: techcrunch.com, thenextweb.com, gizmag.com

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