Nine months after it debuted with fanfare around the US, Google’s smart voice-controlled home speaker is launching into Australia. It’ll be able to remember all your appointments and check your commute in the morning, you’ll be able to play music in one or more rooms at once, and ask it questions and get detailed answers — or even the news headlines — in a proper Aussie accent.
Google Home is a voice-activated, always-listening powered speaker: if you start a phrase with the words “OK Google”, it’ll hear it and interpret the words that you speak next, whether it’s a specific phrase like “what’s the weather like today?” or a natural language question like “what was the name of the winner of Eurovision in 2010?”. The Google Assistant can translate, calculate, convert, and control other network-connected devices in your home. Oh, and it’ll actually play music as well.
Part of the delay between Home’s international and Australian launches can be attributed to the fact that the speaker — and Google Assistant, the voice-activated AI that also runs on Google’s Pixel smartphones — has been localised both to recognise and interpret Aussie accents, and to respond in kind with a bespoke voice. It has a bunch of Aussie Easter eggs, too — you can ask it what a kookaburra sounds like, and have it respond with the familiar laughter, and you can ask it about brekky and servos.
If you’ve got other compatible products — anything that uses an IFTTT recipe, or a smart home gadget like Philips Hue — you’ll be able to talk to your Google Home speaker and run natural language commands like “turn on my lights”. If you’ve got a Chromecast, you can tell Google Home to turn on your TV and start playing Netflix. Google Home can understand up to six different voices, too, and can be tied to six separate Google accounts.
You can have multiple Google Home speakers scattered throughout your house, too, playing the same music simultaneously if you so wish. You can also communicate with each speaker independently, so it’s not just one central processing brain — if you say “OK Google”, only the Google Home to your voice will respond and process your commands.
Google Home will set you back $199 per unit when it launches in Australia on July 20; you’ll be able to buy it at Google Store, JB Hi-Fi, Harvey Norman, Officeworks, The Good Guys, Telstra, Optus, and the Qantas Store in black, copper or grey. [Google]