Google unveils Google Home, to compete with Amazon's Echo

Google unveils Google Home, to compete with Amazon's Echo

Google chief executive Sundar Pichai introduced Google Assistant, a virtual personal assistant, along with the tabletop speaker appliance Google Home. When Google announced that it was coming out with a competitor to Amazon's Echo device at the I/O conference on Wednesday May 18, most of the discussion was about the capabilities, and whether it would be able to overcome the frustrations of other digital assistants, including Amazon's Alexa.

Google Home is a small unobtrusive speaker device that is delicately shaped like the top of a wine glass.

"It's one of many ways to expand the business", said Pivotal Research analyst Brian Wiese when rumors of a Google device surfaced earlier this month.

The difference, Google argues, is that given the company's 17 years of work cataloguing the internet and physical world, its assistant is smarter and better able to work with its email, messaging, mapping and photo apps. When someone sends you a message or image, Allo works to understand the context and offers suggestions for what to say back. The company has been bringing many changes in the way we know the traditional markets to be, and with the Google I/O 2016 event, the company has taken things to a whole new level.

Both apps will be available for Android and iOS later this summer. Google's Chirp has now been given a proper name, and is quite a device.

Google says the development of a the device is a natural progression from the Google searches we all started with on our desktop computers and has been aided by rapid developments in voice technology.

Google unveils Google Home, to compete with Amazon's Echo
Google unveils Google Home, to compete with Amazon's Echo

Orchestrating the project for Google is the company's VP of product management, Mario Queiroz, most well-known for launching Google's biggest success story for devices in the home, the Google Chromecast (sorry, Nest).

Google also built the virtual assistant into Allo, an independent chat bot mobile app for smartphones. Most pressing: What dessert does N stand for?

As expected, Google is expanding its virtual reality efforts far beyond the low-tech Cardboard viewer.

Pichai explained that the goal of the new virtual assistant will be to complete tasks in the real world.

The app runs on Google's servers instead of your phone. Google is also distributing guidelines for a new controller with a few buttons, a touchpad and sensors to track its orientation and where it's pointing. It will also add a wee keyboard for wearable screens. The Apple HomeKit of connected devices was promised a couple years ago but haven't really caught fire, and now it seems like they are late to the game.

The app maker needs to enable this feature, though.

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