For those of you who personally know me, you probably already know that I’m very much a tech addict. Anything technology related is a joy to me.
I used to sign up for any online service that appeared (I no longer do this) and I’ve filled my house with networking gear. So it probably comes as no surprise that I’m in love with Google Home.
First, a word or two about the device. What exactly is a Google Home? Well, it’s a smart speaker. A new category of consumer electronics that is seeing intense competition and development these days.
Essentially, a smart speaker is an always on, internet connected speaker that uses voice recognition to understand your commands and then executes them.
There are many smart speaker on the market, but the three dominant voice assistants on these devices are
- Google assistant, and
You are probably already familiar with at the least the first two due to their ubiquitousness on smartphones that run iOS and Android respectively.
The last is Amazon’s entry into the field, and to be honest, the first voice assistant that made it big time outside the confines of a smartphone — Amazon, unlike Apple and Google, does not make smartphones.
Google Home is powered by, you’ve guessed it, Google Assistant. So, what do these voice assistants do? Tonnes of stuff, but mainly
- Query and add stuff to your calendars
- Query your todo lists
- Ask about traffic conditions and weather
- Perform internet searches and speak out results
- Play music
- Play podcasts
- Control your smart home devices using voice
- And set timers and alarms
I bought my first Google Home at the beginning of the year, and I’m so impressed that I’m suppressing an urge to fill the house with several Google Homes.
When I wake up in the morning, the first thing I say is “Ok Google, good morning”. This sets off a routine that causes the Google Home to give me a weather forecast, an estimated commute time to work, and a news briefing from my favorite news source (The BBC in my case).
I then query the Google Home about the tasks on my todo list — I use todoist which integrates well with Google Home.
During the day, I ask the Google Home to play my favorite classical music station (Classical 24 from TuneIn), set timers for my sprinklers and to perform random internet searches I’m interested in. You need to keep your searches simple and to the point if you want to get a response.
So, for example, “Ok Google, how can I get my baby to sleep?”. Instead of “Ok Google, the baby is crying a lot, I don’t know what to do, it’s night time, help”.
Keep your queries short and sweet to get a useful reply. I also use the Google Home to log feedings and diaper changes of the baby to Evernote so that I can track how much she is eating and whether or not she is changing enough diapers — I use IFTTT for this particular use-case.
I’ve also bought a tp-link smart switch and connected it to my bedroom lamp stand. I can now switch the light on and off using just my voice. A convenience that cannot be over estimated when you have a crying baby in one hand, a feeding bottle in another and wish to manipulate the light.
So, does any of that sound interesting to you? If so, then you may want to get a smart speaker. I personally recommend the Google Home, because although it lacks the acoustic clarity of the Apple HomePod (Apple’s Siri-powered smart speaker), or the shopping smarts of Amazon’s Alexa (you can order stuff from amazon using just your voice), it has the power of google’s search graph behind it, meaning that it will answer more of your questions than either of the competition. For me, that makes it the clear winner.