Besides being a pretty decent voice-controlled speaker, the Home is also a voice activated way of interacting with other connected appliances. These all require you to have said smart devices already, but if you already do or decide to buy some after getting this new Google Home, you’ll be able to control them with your voice. Right now it only works with Smarttings (a brand owned by Samsung that creates all sorts of different home automation contraptions), Nest (which has smart security cameras and thermostats and is owned by Google), and Philips Hue (which is Philips’ selection of smart light bulbs), but expect more and more to be added to this soon.
It’s pretty easy to set these things up, too. Just open the new Google Home app, tap devices, then tap the plus sign to add a new device. You choose which kind and so long as they are already connected to the same WiFi network as the Home, it should find them and you can just tap them to allow Google Home to control them. You can then create Rooms for each set of devices (to allow you to say, turn off all the lights in one room, or play music on a stereo in one room), and give them nicknames so you can turn off specific devices.
The idea behind this being that you can tell your Google Home to do things like “OK Google. Dim the apartment lights to 50%” etc. and control any of those connected devices with your voice. The Amazon Echo can also do this exact same stuff and even more because of its integration with IFTTT a site that allows you to connect services and have triggers to set off certain scenarios. For example, if you connect your Echo to IFTTT then you can tell it to “Trigger Lock Down” and Alexa will turn off your lights, make sure your doors are locked if you have a smart locks, and even silence your Android phone. There are a bunch of these and you can even create your own.
Google Home, doesn’t have this at the moment, but, it’s definitely coming and probably will have a lot of the Android device oriented stuff built in with even more options thanks to the fact that both are Google products. Think, when I’m on my way home turn the air to 70 degrees, the lights on, start playing my playlist, send a text to my girlfriend. Again, can’t do it now, but it’s for sure coming.
Timers, Answers, & More
Besides being a decent speaker and a voice-controller for your smart appliances Home can set multiple timers like the Echo can do, and answer questions like Alexa does as well. The difference here, though, is the almighty reach of Google.
Asking either for simple facts gives you pretty straight forward answers (i.e. how tall is the Eiffel Tower), but when you start to get a little more complex, the Home wins pretty easily. This is down to the fact that it can actually grab information from across the web to help –and while not always correct since it is just grabbing info on the web like using the Google web search, it does tend to be correct a decent majority of the time.
Some example questions you can ask Home and not Echo are:
- Asking for a recipe. Home will even read it out to you and send the written version to your phone.
- How do you calculate slope? This, and any other homework-like question will give you a solid answer and then send the source to your phone for further reading.
- What is the MPG of the new Chevy Camaro? It’ll tell you that the 2017 Chevrolet Camaro is 22 city and 31 highway.
- Can cats eat grapes? She’ll list out info from PetMD and tell you not only that it unlikely that a cat will even eat a grape, but that it technically is okay and that you shouldn’t give them to dogs (it’ll cause acute kidney failure).
You get the idea. In fact, it becomes an interesting game to see if you can stump Google Home with questions. So when it comes to knowledge it’s just too hard for Amazon to compete with Google.