In our latest podcast, I mentioned to Sunny how I thought Amazon was more committed to the Echo than Google was committed to the Google Home. I started thinking about moving to the Echo family of devices. Part of the reason revolved around Amazon’s recent introduction of the Echo Show. The Show would let me view my Nest Cam on the screen by simply saying “Alexa, show me the feed in the nursery.” Amazon also introduced video and voice calling on all their Echo’s. While the calling to phones isn’t available and calling to mobile phones requires an app, it was a novel idea.Beyond the Echo, Show Amazon offers the Fire TV, Echo, Echo Dot, and other places you’ll find Alexa. Google may offer Google Assistant on Android, Android TV, and the Google Home, but the functionality across devices isn’t the same. I’m still not able to set reminders on the Google Home and Assistant on Android TV won’t let me send text messages. Sunny told me to wait for Google I/O for updates, and I’m glad I waited!
At Google I/O the company announced some significant updates to Google Home and subsequently Google Assistant. The biggest announced, and swipe at Amazon, is the new ability to call any landline or mobile phone number from the Google Home. Beyond the voice calling, there is a new TV dashboard where you can see an overview of your day. You’re able to set reminders and put calendar entries in now. We’re also getting notifications on the Google Home which will alert us to traffic, reminders, or flight delays.
Now I have a feeling of confidence Google isn’t going to abandon the Google Home. They might have some of their priorities backward, but they’re working to an all-encompassing voice assistant. Let’s unpack the big news from Google I/O.
Google is positioning the Google Home as a replacement for the home phone. You’re able to make calls to anyone in your contacts by asking Google to call the person. You’ll call through Google’s servers, but your number will appear on the person’s phone. It’s all free of charge. With no to little setup means anyone can use these features.
Google introduced this feature to let anyone call a business through the Home. Google could and possibly will replace the Home phone for many people who already have the Home in their house.
Welp, Google Home is getting notifications. It’s a part of the “proactive assistant,” which will offer updates on flight delays, traffic on your commute, or other small updates that you might need to know about your day. Google is going to do this in a subtle way at first; the ring light on top will pulse when you have a notification. You’ll need to acknowledge the Home before the notification will play.
Google is integrating Google Home and the Chromecast further. Google announced Google Assistant could control more apps including HBO, Hulu, and announced the ability to stream anything over Bluetooth. Google also built a TV interface where you can ask Google to show you an overview of your day. You’ll see weather, your commute, and other basic information. They’ll open up the TV interface to third parties in the future. I’m hopeful Google will add in security camera support so I can watch my Nest Cam when my daughter is going down for bed.
Reminders! Oh god, Google is finally adding reminders to the Google Home. Sunny has complained about the lack of reminders for months now. We’re also able to add calendar events. Combine those features with the multiple profiles through voice recognition; you’ll never mix up calendars or reminders.
I’m confident Google will keep working on Google Assistant. They’re hell bent on keeping up and one day surpassing the Echo. Google’s opted for using one device instead of going the Amazon method of introducing a handful of Echo’s at different price points. Google is using Chromecast TV’s as their screens, and soon you can use any Bluetooth speakers with the Home.
At the moment I’m going to go all in with Google, but I’ve made the wrong choice before. I bought into the Wink platform and realized a year later that Samsung’s SmartThings had more integrations and had more developer support.
Tell us in the comments below what you think! Are you guys going to go in with Google Home or opt for the Amazon Echo? I’m going all in with the Google Home and the Google ecosystem!