what-is-google-home

Google Home is Much More Than a Voice-Activated Speaker

On the surface, Google Home seems like a relatively straightforward device. It’s a small, Wi-Fi connected speaker housed in an attractive enclosure that’s meant to blend in with your home decor. You can even choose from multiple base colours to get just the right look. It plays music streamed from services like Google Music or Spotify, and you can set up multiple Google Homes throughout your home for multi-room music capability.

google-home-voice-activated-music

There are touch controls on top, but Google Home is equipped with always-on, far-field microphones and advanced voice recognition, so you can control this speaker by voice command. Tell Google Home to turn up the volume, play music in a specific room or to play a favourite play list—without having to pick up a smartphone or touch a button.

Cool, yes, and a step further than most wireless speakers go, but still a speaker.

However, it is much more than a speaker …

google-home-is-a-speakerPowered by Google Assistant

Google Home takes full advantage of Google Assistant, the cutting edge AI-powered technology that’s currently exclusive in smartphones to Google’s Pixel Phone.

That means saying “OK Google” lets you take advantage of Google Assistant’s smarts without having to power on a device. If Google Home is in the room, you can ask about sports scores, weather conditions or have Google Home perform a calculation for you. The far-field microphone lets Google Home pick up on your questions from across the room.

Because it’s powered by Google Assistant, you can also optionally use Google Home to help plan and manage your day: set alarms, make appointments, ask it about flight information or traffic. Ask Google Home about how long it will take you to walk to work. Add items to your shopping list or set a timer while you cook dinner.

Google Home Can Control Your Smart Devices

One of the most exciting capabilities of Google Home is its ability to control a growing number of smart devices using voice commands.

For example, you can turn on Hue lights or set the temperature on a Nest thermostat simply by telling Google Home to do so. The smart speaker also supports IFTTT recipes. A recent update rolled out support for Netflix over Google Chromecast, so you can tell Google Home to play a Netflix show on your TV and by the time you get to the living room, the show is starting. And you didn’t have to pick up a smartphone, tablet or remote.

google home smart hub

When Can I get It?

Google Home is definitely on the radar of many tech-loving Canadians. The idea of a visually attractive, affordable, voice-controlled speaker that also serves as a smart home hub is pretty compelling. Especially one that is constantly updated by Google and supported by a growing number of third parties. As to when Canadians can get it in their homes, that’s one question even the smart speaker doesn’t have a definitive answer to—we’ll let you know on the Best Buy Canada blog when we have more information.

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Editor Computing solutions
I’m a long-time electronics and gadget geek who’s been fortunate enough to enjoy a career that lets me indulge this interest. After 13 years as a product manager with a leading Canadian tech company, I transitioned into a full-time career of writing about technology. I’ve contributed to a range of publications and websites including Forbes, Wired, Gizmodo, Lifehacker, About.com, MSN Money, the Winnipeg Free Press, InvestorPlace Media, Shaw Media and—combining technology and my three kids—I’ve been a Core Contributor to the award winning GeekDad blog since its launch in 2007.

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