Google has used its developer conference, I/O 2016 in San Francisco, to take the wraps off Google Home, a new hardware device, similar to Amazon’s Echo, that allows users to have natural-language conversations with the search engine.
Google Home is a hardware device with an integrated microphone and speaker that allows users to use voice to ask for information, or play music or video.
“Today people are asking Google questions in many, many different ways. Users are already looking to Google to get things done. But we believe we are just getting started,” said Google CEO Sundar Pichai.
Although Google showed off the Google Home hardware at I/O 2016, it emphasised that the product is still in development and will only be available to purchase sometime later in the year. Google did not reveal pricing, or say which markets it would be available in at launch. Amazon’s Echo retails for US$180.
Anyone who has used Google’s voice assistant software will already have a good idea of how Google Home will work. But the service will go further, allowing users to connect devices such as TVs, lights, air conditioning systems and other home appliances to the system.
For example, a correctly configured system will allow someone in the kitchen to ask Google Home to play music – an album by U2, say – in the main bedroom.
The idea, eventually, is for users to have a completely natural-language conversation with Google Home, company representatives said.
The device has been designed to blend into the home, and its base can be customised with different colours and finishes, Google said. It has a clean face, with no buttons.
Like Amazon’s Echo, users will be able to set alarms and timers and create shopping lists. “You will also be able to connect the smart home seamlessly to control lights, thermostats, switches and more, including our own Nest devices,” Google said.
In future, users will be able to order dinner or send flowers to someone, all using voice controls. — © 2016 NewsCentral Media