Google Home was announced at the American giant’s October conference. It is a voice-activated assistant with speakers connected to a WiFi network. Available since August 3, 2017, this device is a real personal assistant. Once connected to your home, Google Home is there to answer all our questions and assist us like a real virtual secretary. By a simple “Ok Google”, followed by any order, you can ask him anything, or almost anything.
Google has announced that new features will soon arrive. It will be possible to couple several actions with the same voice request. For example, by saying “Hey Google, I’ll be home in 10 minutes”, the voice assistant will turn on the lights when you arrive and launch your favorite playlist. The Californian giant also added more than 30 new languages compatible with the voice assistant, as well as implementing geolocated alerts (in the event of an earthquake or attacks, for example).
Google wants you to invite him to your home. To do this, the group created Google Home, a cylindrical smart speaker with two microphones and four LEDs. This connected object, launched in the United States in November 2016 and in France on August 3, 2017, is linked to a virtual assistant called Google Assistant, an artificial intelligence capable of answering both voice and written questions from its owners. The communicating speaker is then able to help its users in multiple tasks of their daily life, as shown in the video below: automatically switch on the light, put a playlist on Spotify, listen to the news,…
Google Home is finally available in France. For 149 euros, we can now afford the services of an assistant/secretary who can answer all our questions, from the most intelligent to the most stupid, as well as prepare our agenda. The American company is in the process of revolutionizing French homes with this small device to connect to your home. Simple Gadget or future indispensable assistant of your home. Answer in this test.
- Brand: Google
- Category: Connected assistant
- Connection: WiFi
- Compatibility: iOS and Android
- Price: 149 euros
- Availability: Available in France since August 3, 2017
- Tested with: iPhone 5s/Samsung Galaxy S6
Google Home Unboxing
First of all, Google Home is delivered in a square cardboard box about 40 centimeters high. Mainly dominated by white, its front face bears an illustration of the product with Google’s famous multicolored “G”. The slices display the characteristics of the Home as well as some examples of questions it can answer. The back panel has features with an image of the Google assistant.
The cardboard stand lifts up from the top to reveal a box entirely covered in white and decorated with the Google symbol on top. It is equipped with a small grey tongue, which, when pulled, pivots upwards with a diagonal opening. We find the Google Home, standing, comfortably installed in white plastic stands.
Just below the assistant is a plastic holder with a small cone that enters the Google Home even to keep it upright. Underneath, there are small boxes with some usage information. Of course, everything is in English. Finally, the charger and its cable are placed at the very bottom of the box.
In terms of ergonomics, the packaging is quite successful. The space is very well optimized and the box has a certain class. The packaging seems to promise a luxurious product.
Design and ergonomics of Google Home
Google Home is 14 centimeters high and has a cylindrical design. With its 96 mm diameter, it can be placed anywhere, on a coffee table or on furniture. Its weight of 480 grams allows even small hands to lift it without any problem.
The assistant is completely white and smooth except for its base. All grey, this one is made of a material reminiscent of carpet. To ensure that the product can be integrated in every home, Google offers 7 different color databases on the Google Store for $20. Made of metal or fabric, they are very easy to remove and hide black speakers and a micro USB port.
On its sides, the white part of Google Home houses a mute button, a light and the famous “G”. The upper surface, as if cut diagonally, is equipped with two microphones and 4 LEDs, in green, blue, red and yellow, which will light up when used.
Overall, the design of Google is quite attractive. Its dimensions will allow it to interfere in the different rooms of the house. The visual is good, but now let’s move on to the use.
Using Google Home
To start, one of the cardboard packaging guides advises us to connect Google Home. As it is only available in English, it will of course be necessary to use an adapter and connect it via WiFi. Once this is done, the light above the “G” lights up like those on the upper surface. Google Home, with its feminine voice and always in English, asks the user to download the application that we will explain later.
The Google Home must remain connected to continue to operate. It is the easiest to use. All you have to do is say OK GOOGLE. Voice detection is often risky, as the assistant does not detect our solicitation. Sometimes, a few meters away, the device reacts to our “OK GOOGLE” but remains silent our mouth glued to the microphones. This situation also occurs in the opposite direction. The accent certainly plays a role in voice detection, but in any case, make sure you speak clearly and avoid the ambient noise.
If the “OK, GOOGLE” does not work, the alternative is to place your finger on the top of the device for several seconds. The blue, red, yellow and green lights on the upper surface illuminate and rotate before stopping. This second option has, on many occasions, allowed us to bypass voice detection.
It is now the user’s turn to interact aloud with Google Home, the scope of which we will detail in the next section. After a few seconds of reflection, the camera, with its always feminine voice, responds to each request. When these are properly understood, Google Home has never made us long for much time.
The upper surface is a touch screen. A simple press in its center allows you to pause the music and stop any current order. Even after several hours of downtime, the device remembers the song and restarts it when, due to inattention, we rested our finger on the top surface.
The volume is adjusted by rotating the finger in a circular motion in the center of the screen. Small white lights appear to fill or empty the gauge. At the same time, Google Home emits sounds to give the user an idea of the volume. Of course, all these commands can be required by voice.
Google Home has a mute button on one of its slices to turn off the device’s microphones. This will prevent him from listening to conversations that are not intended for him. It emits an audible warning and the lights illuminate orange.
Finally, several Google Home can connect together to, for example, play the same music in each room.
Features of Google Home
Google Home answers most of your voice questions. What is the weather like? Who is Donald Trump? The assistant is able to distinguish between those to which he cannot give us answers and those to which he simply did not understand. Unsurprisingly, Google Home is more knowledgeable about the American universe than French.
When the request is correctly understood, Google Home has always provided us with the right answer. He is already aware that Donald Trump is the President of the United States and that J. K. Rowling’s latest film is being played in the cinema. Supported by Google, the assistant is impressive for getting answers to complex and precise requests. For example, to the question “where can I find ebony bars in the Skyrim game”, Google Home drew a useful answer from a Wikipedia page.
It can respond to other types of orders such as news announcements or traffic conditions to get to the Eiffel Tower. Navigation and translation are supported through Google Maps and Translate services.
Google Home has other capabilities such as scheduling alarms or announcing your next appointment. With the user’s permission, the assistant can enter the device smartphone to send messages or book a trip with the Uber application. If you are in a rather teasing mood, Google Home offers some on-demand “Play games”. It is best to learn the basics of Shakespeare’s language to interact with the device and play against a friend.
In terms of music listening, Google Home can play songs from Youtube Music, Google Play Music, Spotify, TuneIn and Pandora. Except for the last two, all of them ask for premium accounts, so they have to pay. However, you can stream music from your smartphone applications to a TV or speakers by connecting Chromecast.
Apart from foreign songs for Google Home, it correctly understands the user’s orders. The sound of Google Home is quite well balanced. The basses surprise by their strength for a device with such dimensions. However, the device will not replace a full Bluetooth speaker.
Google Home connects with smart devices such as the Nest and Philips Hue product series to regulate temperature or control lights. We tried it with a lamp from the Philips Hue range. Its control with Google Home is convenient, not requiring the user to make any movement.
The wizard can also control products and services that are compatible with Google Cast technology. As a result, it is possible to ask him to watch your favorite Netflix series on your TV or Youtube videos. An IFTTT control is possible to connect other devices or applications. However, Google announces an improvement of the services compatible with its assistant.