Google Takes on the Home with the Mini and Max
At Google’s live stream event in San Francisco, the company launched several new products aimed at improving the way you intelligently interact with your home and Google’s virtual assistant. CEO Sunder Pichai also provided a few general updates to the company’s most used features.
Google powers over 200 million translations a day and the AI used to improve Google Maps is growing more and more. Pichai noted that the rate at which AI is progressing is astounding.
Users can ask Home to do almost anything, from requesting a specific song to translating a foreign phrase. Rishi Chandra, the VP of product management for Home products, outlined what kinds of updates users of the virtual assistant can expect.
Google Home could always make hands-free calls in the U.S., but that feature is now being extended to the U.K. very soon. Google Voice Match has the ability to understand who is asking questions or making a request—this means placing calls specific to a users’ address book, or asking for a playlist suited to different tastes. During the last year, over 100 million questions and answers were added to Google assistant, giving more credence to that phrase “there are no stupid questions.”
The assistant can also ring an Android phone if it has been misplaced, even if the phone is in silent mode. Home can also call an iPhone as well. The device can work with over 1,000 different smart home products from over 100 brands.
New features for children have also been added, letting kids take part in utilizing the assistant. There are games, stories and riddles to take part in, from musical chairs to space-related trivia. A partnership with Disney was also unveiled, bringing original content involving Mickey Mouse, Star Wars and Cars characters right into the home.
A few new products utilizing Google Assistant were outlined during the event: a compact version of the Google Home and a smart speaker.
Google Home Mini
The Home Mini is a smaller version of the original Google Home, designed to be placed in multiple rooms around the house. During some of the demos, there was an original Home in a user’s living room, while Home Minis were placed in a few bedrooms upstairs.
The Mini is circular and the top half is covered in a special fabric designed specifically for the device by Google themselves. According to the Home Mini’s ad spot, the device is “smaller than a donut and weighs less than a chipmunk.”
Google Assistant can also broadcast messages through the Home Mini. An example for parents was used, saying “time to leave for school!” into a Home on the main level, and transmitting it to the upstairs Home Minis. No more yelling up the stairs at half-asleep zombies.
“Parents are going to love this feature—kids are going to hate it,” laughed Rishi Chandra.
It’s even possible to send a message from outside the home using the new Pixel phone, perhaps to let everyone know that takeout dinner is on the way.
Home Mini comes in three colors: coral, chalk and charcoal. It will retail at $49 USD each. It will be offered to all seven countries that Google Home is currently available in.
Google Home Max
Max is a product developed for music lovers. The product outlines an obsession with bass, sporting 4.5-inch subwoofers. The Max adjusts its sound to the dynamics of a user’s home depending on where it is placed. This feature comes courtesy of machine learning, and if the Max is moved, it will re-tune in seconds to find the best sound possible. The sound is 20 times more powerful than the original Google Home.
The speaker can be stood upright, laid down, or combined with another one to create more cohesive surround sound. Max will support YouTube, Pandora, Spotify and more, and for a limited time, purchasing a Max will come with a one-year subscription to YouTube Red.
For the forgetful bunch, listeners can even hum along to a song and let the Max figure out what tune it is.
Google Home Max will be available in two colors (charcoal and chalk) this December in the U.S. and retails for $399. It will be available in more countries later this year.