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Forget About Amazon Echo, Google Home Just Got Massive Updates And It's More Powerful Than Ever [Video]

19 May 2017, 12:11 pm EDT By Alexandra Burlacu Tech Times
Google Home is turning into a true productivity powerhouse with the latest updates announced at Google I/O. Amazon Echo now has a truly fierce competitor, so here’s all you need to know about the latest Google Home power features.  ( Justin Sullivan | Getty Images )

Google announced a number of big updates for its smart speaker at Google I/O, and Google Home is now more powerful than ever.

What was at first a shy, yet promising competitor to Amazon's Echo line of smart speakers, Google Home has now evolved into a productivity powerhouse ready to take the game into a different league.

Google Home will soon be able to handle calls, and it supports multiple users complete with voice recognition to figure out who's talking, it deeply integrates Google Assistant for more functionality, it flashes a light for notifications, and it will soon let users set reminders and calendar appointments that sync with other Google/ Android products. Not bad, right? Let's take a closer look at these updates.

Google Home Calls

Google Home will get native hands-free calling via a software update. The feature will essentially enable Google Home to serve as a speakerphone, allowing users to place calls to landlines and cellphones in the United states and Canada. It's worth highlighting here that users will be able to make real calls, not only internet calls from one Amazon Echo to another.

Users can make calls from Google Home using either a private number or their mobile phone number, as they prefer. Even better, since Google Home now has multi-user support with voice recognition, it will be able to discern who to call upon getting a command like "Hey Google, call dad." It will recognize who is speaking, therefore know whose dad to call.

With this calling feature, Google Home could prove to be a valuable asset not just around the house, but also in the office as it could allow multiple people to take part in a call on speakerphone.

"In the coming months, just ask your Assistant and it will connect you to mobile phones or landlines in the U.S. or Canada, free," says Google. "There's no setup and no need for a phone or additional app."

Google Home Calendar Appointments, Reminders And Smart Home Features

Google Home now allows users to schedule calendar appointments, as well as create and review reminders. Moreover, since it leverages the same Google Assistant powering a slew of other devices, including Android smartphones, users will be able to get a reminder both at home and on the go.

On the smart home front, Google Home now boasts more than 70 partners that support Google Assistant across Android phones and Google Home. Notable partners include LG, August locks, Logitech, Honeywell and TP-Link.

Google Home Movies, TV Shows And Music Options

Google Home will soon allow users to enjoy Spotify's free music offering, Deezer, and Soundcloud. Google is also equipping its smart speaker with Bluetooth support, so users will be able to play any audio from their Android or iOS devices. On the video front, users can already stream Netflix, and more options are coming soon, including HBO NOW, HGTV and CBS All Access.

Google Home Visual Responses

Google also plans to add visual responses to Google Home later this year, leveraging the power of Google Assistant on Chromecast-enabled TVs. Users will be able to see Assistant answers on the TV, whether it's a calendar agenda or a YouTube video.

Google Home Conversational Apps And Proactive Notifications

Google also announced that developers can now create conversational apps for the Google Assistant on smartphones, which means that users will soon be able to get answers from Google and third-party services.

The company notes that nearly 70 percent of all Assistant requests come in natural language, as users utter commands naturally rather than the keywords they use for a web search. Many of those requests are follow-ups that create an ongoing conversation, so Google wants to further improve conversational apps and options.

In some cases, however, the Assistant should start the conversation and with this in mind, Google Home will get proactive notifications over the following months. These proactive notifications will basically involve Google Home flashing its lights when it has something to say, such as a pending reminder, a status change for a trip saved in Gmail, a traffic delay, or other such important messages. When the device flashes its lights, users can check the information simply by saying "Hey Google, what's up?"

Google Home Availability

Lastly, the company is also expanding the availability of Google Home, launching the device in Canada, Australia, Germany, France and Japan later this year. Google Assistant, meanwhile, will soon roll out to eligible Android devices in French, Brazilian Portuguese, German and Japanese, and, later on, Italian, Spanish and Korean as well.

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