Google Home has finally launched in the UK, months after it debuted in the United States, bringing some much-needed competition to the Amazon Echo.
For anyone who has used the Amazon Echo or Echo Dot, the idea behind the Google Home will be immediately familiar.
In a nutshell, the Google Home lets you search the web, organise your calendar, control your smart home devices, play music, and more, using your voice.
The voice-controlled smart speaker will also answer your general knowledge queries, search for directions, and translate phrases.
Google Home is triggered using the wake phrase, “Ok Google”.
Like the Amazon Echo, the Google Home feels like the ultimate luxury – after all, how hard is it to pull your phone from your pocket and search the web yourself?
But the unparalleled convenience of these smart speakers ensure they quickly become part of your daily routine.
Voice searches like “OK Google, where is my nearest Tesco?”, “Ok Google, what time does it close?” and “Ok Google, what’s the weather going to be in London this weekend?” are all answered in seconds.
Google Home is powered by the Google Assistant, which debuted with the Google Pixel smartphone before rolling out to most Android 7.1 devices.
Google has built an empire from its search prowess – with the company name now synonymous with search in the dictionary – so its hardly surprisingly that its artificially intelligent assistant is unparalleled.
The Google Home is breathtakingly accurate.
Local listings, trivia, directions, translations – it takes everything in its stride.
In fact, it’s difficult to think of a question Google Home is unable to answer.
When planning for a recent trip, Google Home was able to quickly reel off the fastest route and total distance (as well as an eerily-accurate ETA) for our drive to East Coker, in Somerset.
Along with internet searches, Google Home also allows owners to control an array of the smart home devices, including lightbulbs, such as Philips Hue, and thermostats, like the Nest.
If you’ve already invested in plenty of smart home gadgetry, the ability to ask Google Home to change the temperature or change the colour of the lights in a certain room, will be very welcome.
Anyone who owns a ChromeCast is also able to control playback using their voice – as well as request specific videos to play on the television.
Barking commands to the television as you sprint to the Kitchen mid-movie binge is a neat little feature. It’s also one Amazon cannot match with the Echo and Echo Dot – despite having its own ChromeCast-esque HDMI streaming stick, Fire TV Stick.
The Home springs into like when you say “OK Google”
Google Home looks much more appealing than Amazon’s Echo
Google Home is surprisingly compact, standing at just 5.62 inches.
Although it’s not going to win any beauty competitions, it has a pleasantly inoffensive design. Even if it does resemble an air freshener.
Google Home ships with a slate fabric base, but this can be removed and swapped-out with an array of different colours to blend into your décor.
It’s a nice touch. And ensures the Google Home is less intrusive than the towering monolith design of the Amazon Echo.
But despite besting the Amazon Echo in a number of categories, the Google Home is not without its faults.
The sound quality of Google’s new smart speaker is decent, but nothing to write home about. And don’t expect it to power your next house party.
When cranked up to 11, the Google Home speaker starts to lose its fidelity and sound a little muffled and muggy. If you want to blast out music, it’s well worth taking the time to pair your Google Home with a Bluetooth speaker.
That said, the in-built speaker is perfectly good enough for a brief conversation with Google Assistant, an audio briefing from Sky News, or a radio station.
There’s also something a little unnerving about waking the smart speaker with the phrase “Ok, Google” or “Hey Google”.