Today was Google’s annual I/O event, and as you might expect, a lot was announced today. Google Assistant was central among the news, though it wouldn’t be I/O without talk about the physical dwelling for Google Assistant: Google Home.
You really just can’t talk about Google Assistant without also bringing up Google Home. Home has grown and improved since its launch, adding over 50 new features including product ordering, recipes, and playing songs based on hearing some lyrics. The speaker/assistant will also be available in more countries soon, including Canada, Australia, France, Germany, and Japan.
Google Home should also see what was referred to as “Proactive Assistance.” Home will keep an eye on your calendar, appointments, and other pertinent information and remind you about related items. In the example given, the lights on Home would light up, and when asked it will tell you what it’s thinking. It’ll start with simple things like calendar reminders, traffic delays, and flight status updates.
Google Home will also get hands-free calling. Sure, Amazon already announced hands-free calling for its Echo and Alexa-enabled devices, though there were a few hoops to jump through for that process to work perfectly. Google Home will allow you to call any landline or mobile phone in the US or Canada for free. You won’t need any additional apps, setup, or even a phone for this to work. Even better, since Google Home will now recognize up to six family members’ voices, simply saying “call mom” will get the appropriate mother on the phone, as Google Home recognizes the requesting voice, and contacts “mom” based on who is asking. By default it seems like Home will dial out using a generic default number (kind of like Google Voice calling, eh?) but you can also set your personal number so recipients will know who’s calling. Oh, Google Home will be able to use that number based on who is asking after recognizing your voice too.
Other improvements to Google Home include Spotify free music streaming with Soundcloud and Deezer also added. Bluetooth support is coming to all existing Google Home devices, allowing you to stream music to the speaker from your phone or tablet. Additional video partners are also coming soon, including HBO Now, Hulu, YouTube TV, and others. Google Home will also start to use visual responses. Taking advantage of the screens you’ve already got, Home will show you pertinent information on pertinent devices. If you ask for directions, it might send those directly to your phone. If you ask about a video, it can pull that up on your TV. Chromecast will receive an update allowing for visual responses to get those happening on your TV.