“OK Google, wake me up at 8 a.m. and book an appointment with the hair stylist at 10 a.m.,” went the instruction to Google Home — the voice-activated speaker powered by Google Assistant.
“Sure, your alarm is set for 8 a.m. and the appointment has been fixed for 10 a.m.,” came the instant reply from Google Assistant — the new lady in my home who, according to senior company executives, has received over 4.5 lakh marriage proposals from India.
Following the launch of “Amazon Echo” smart speaker in India last year, Google has now brought its “Home” speaker range to the country.
Google Home and Home Mini speakers — priced at Rs 9,999 and Rs 4,499, respectively — can help people with their commute, play their favourite songs and videos, plan their daily schedule and lots more.
Let’s see how Google Home fares in the Indian context.
The speaker is capable of understanding the thick Indian accent thanks to two microphones on either side of the LED lights that light up when the device recognises the opening “OK Google” voice command.
The two microphones utilise the neural beam forming technique to enable accurate voice recognition.
The curves of the device resemble a wine glass. The lower part holds the speakers and the upper part is the main body with the touch-sensitive top.
When the volume is increased or decreased, the device responds with the shimmering ivory-coloured light ring.
Google has trained the Assistant in English and has promised Hindi support later this year.
“Play ‘Firestone’ by KYGO,” went another voice command and lo! the device checked the Google Play music subscription — the company is giving six-month free Google Play music subscription when you buy the device — and instantly played the song.
The device also works with music streaming platforms like Saavn and Gaana. The music output was good for a medium-sized room.
“OK, Google, play Arijit Singh songs.” She returned with the hit number “Enna sona kyun rab ne banaya”.
If you want to chat or listen to her in an another room, pair another Home device or a Bluetooth speaker with Chromecast support. Another option is to attach a Chromecast Audio device to a speaker.
Google Assistant told us the correct score of Delhi Daredevils while it chased the Mumbai Indians’ total in one of the IPL matches.
However, to a question on happenings in Syria, she played a 30-second news bulletin from BBC News.
Google has simulated hundreds of thousands of noisy environments and applied Machine Learning (ML) to recognise patterns that allow it to filter and separate speech from noise.
Google Assistant understands several languages and can translates sentences into Spanish, French and more.
Not only multimedia, Google Home can also control smart devices such as connected Internet of Things (IoT) device “Philips Hue” in your drawing room.
We set up Google Home to control a light bulb which was connected via “Philips Hue”. We asked the device to dim, turn off and turn on the light and got the desired results.
What didn’t work’
While playing music, Google Home at times did not receive the command in one go. We had to raise our voice twice or sometimes thrice to get the command through the noisy environment.
One important takeaway: Never keep your Google Assistant-enabled smartphone near Home device as the voice command does wake up Assistant in the smartphone too and could ruin the whole experience.
Conclusion: At this price point, Google Home is a good choice as it saves time while performing some key daily tasks for you. It is not the replacement of your better half yet, but does help you with daily chores. Take it home.
(Sourabh Kulesh can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
By Sourabh Kulesh