Google’s Smart Home vision revealed at its I/O 2017 Conference
Google just concluded its I/O 2017 conference, laying out the company’s future roadmap for Android, Google Assistant, Google Home, Virtual Reality, and much more.
In particular, Google Assistant can now analyse the world around with the help of your smartphone camera. Using a technology the company calls Google Lens, the Assistant will analyse your surroundings and display relevant content on your screen. You’ll see a restaurant’s rating when pointing your phone at the storefront, you can aim it at a flower and it will identify the species, and if you point Lens at Wi-Fi login credentials, your Android phone will be able to use that info to log on to that network. Google Assistant has recently added support for Whirlpool and GE appliances.
Google is also turning its smart speaker into a phone. Over the coming months, all Home owners will be able to place free calls to the United States and Canada. By default, Google uses a private number for this feature — but you’ve got the option of tying it to your own mobile phone number. The same goes for everyone else in your house, as phone calls support Home’s multi-user setup. Only outgoing calls will be available at launch, as Google is taking a cautious approach to avoid privacy headaches.
Google’s smart speaker was already one of the best ones on the market, but the company announced a suite of other new features and updates beyond calling to Home that make it much more powerful. Home is now going to be able to control HBO Now, Hulu, SoundCloud, Deezer, and more. Even better, Google is opening up access to Home’s Bluetooth radio, meaning you can treat it just like any other Bluetooth speaker.
Home is also becoming more useful away from the device itself. Google showed off what it’s calling “visual responses.” Using Google Assistant, Home will now be more capable of directing the right information to the right connected screen. Say something like: “OK Google, show my calendar for today” and Home can instantly display your day’s events on a Chromecast-connected TV. Ask Home for directions to a place or event, and it will send the directions right to the Google Maps app on your phone.
More than ever, this requires extreme commitment to Google’s products and services, but that’s sort of the point — Google is betting it can bring all this stuff together in such an attractive way that you won’t think twice about buying (or ditching) your Amazon Echo.