Less than two years since Amazon launched its voice-activated home device, rumors are spreading about Google coming up with a contender. And at this year’s I/O event, Google finally confirms what people have been anticipating for the past few years.
Home’s VP of product management, Mario Queiroz, built the device on Chromecast—a home device he himself successfully launched for Google. And like Chromecast, Home can push media to other Cast-compatible devices, change temperature or lighting through Nest devices, and integrate with services like Spotify.
As of now, Home’s compatibility with third party services is limited but Google says they may be accommodated in the future as the platform develops.
The device boasts sophisticated voice recognition technology, honed through several years of development. “Google Home is unmatched in far-field voice recognition since it’s powered by more than ten years of innovation in natural language processing. I can continue the two-way dialogue with the assistant that Sundar [Pichai, chief executive of Google] mentioned earlier, whether I’m standing nearby cooking dinner or sitting across the room playing a game with my daughter,” says Queiroz.
Much like OK Google, Google Home answers questions and performs basic tasks as playing music, checking the weather, and sending texts when users start a command by saying “OK Google.”
The device is a virtual butler that is “always-listening.” It uses Google Assistant, a high-level artificial intelligence, and connects with users’ Google accounts to sync appointments and lists.
“Computing is evolving beyond phones, and people are using it in context across many scenarios, be it in their television, be it in their car, be it something they wear on their wrist or even something much more immersive,” Pichai said.
While the system is a very entertaining addition to any home, some worry that a device with a microphone that is “always listening” is a privacy concern. Perhaps future developments should incorporate security as one of the next priority features of the device.