Google I/O 2017 is underway, and the company isn’t wasting any time announcing new features, updates and products to their huge portfolio of devices. One of those announcements made today were the new features that they are going to add to Google Home. While they aren’t groundbreaking, they do add up to make the device even more useful than before.
First up, Google’s adding notifications, or “proactive assistance,” to Home. What this means is that the device will try its best to alert users of things they need to know during the day, such as reminders, traffic alerts or even flight delays. At launch, the notifications appear to be pretty basic, which could serve as a way to not overload the user with a ton of alerts all at once. How users will be able to know that the Home is giving them a notification is by the ring light spinning around, without making any noise. When a user notices the ring, they just have to say “Ok Google, what’s up?” and it’ll respond.
Second, Google is now adding free calling to phones in the US and Canada. This feature was introduced on Amazon’s Echo speakers not that long ago, but that was only to other Echo devices. Here, Google’s implementation is better in the sense that Home users can call actual landline and mobile phones. All someone would have to do is ask Home to call anyone on their contacts list, and it’ll dial it out to them on a private number. Google Home does have voice recognition, it’ll be able to figure out which users contact list to use.
Additionally, for what seems like an eternity, Home users can now finally set reminders and calendar entries.
While Google Home has been able to control quite a few music and video services, a few major players have been missing out. Thankfully, more are being added including Deezer, SoundCloud, HBO, and Hulu. Furthermore, Google Home can now stream anything over Bluetooth.
Interestingly, Google is making a TV interface for the Home, so users can ask it to send information straight to the TV. Some examples of this could be weather and calendar details, local restaurants nearby, and even YouTube video suggestions. Google is saying that “over time” they’re going to let Assistant integrations that third parties build come to the new TV interface.
Finally, Google Home can now be brought in five new countries starting this summer: Canada, Australia, France, Germany, and Japan.
As you can probably tell, the overall descriptions of the new features are still pretty basic, and we have no clear definition as to when they’ll come out. But, it seems as though Google’s finally catching up to Amazon’s Echo in terms of usability. What do you think of all the new updates? Let us know in the comments down below or on any of our social media pages. Also, stay tuned to TechDependent as we’ll be covering more I/O 2017 news.