Google Announces Home, A Competitor to Amazon's Echo

Courtesy Photo
Google Home

Google has unveiled its competitor to Amazon's successful home assistant and speaker Echo, which it's calling Google Home. The announcement was the initial focus of CEO Sundar Pichai's keynote during the company's I/O Developer Conference.

The first portion of Pichai's speech focused on Google Assistant, the "conversational" platform. "We've spent the last decade building the world's best recognition technology," Pichai told the audience, saying the technology is "far ahead of what other assistants can do." Pichai has begun "training" Assistant with noisy backgrounds, and that 20 percent of queries on Google are now voice-generated.

Gearing up to pull the curtain off of its new product, Sichai gave "credit to the team at Amazon for creating excitement in this space," clearly referencing the Echo. "We think of the Assistant as an ambient experience that extends across all devices. It will be in the context of a user's daily life," whether phone, car or living room.

From there Pichai brought out Chomecast developer Mario Queiroz, who presented a prototype of Google Home, which is slightly smaller than a bookshelf speaker (and acts as a speaker, too). "Google Home is unmatched in far field voice recognition," Queiroz said, again referencing its underlying voice technology's "10 years of natural voice processing development."

The product will interact via wifi with Chromecast devices, such as the Chromecast Audio device which makes any home stereo wifi enabled. Using Home, users will be able to direct the Home device to play a playlist, artist, album or song using their voice. That functionality, of course, is dependent on what partners sign up to be a part of the Assistant and Home products.

The product will be available for purchase "later this year," Queiroz said.