Made By Google: Google Home, Chromecast Ultra and Google Wi-Fi
At the ‘Made by Google‘ event in San Francisco yesterday, Google made its entry into the consumer hardware market with the announcement of new products ‘designed and built by Google’. Steadily taking the same approach as Apple, the search giant wants to be actively and heavily involved in both the hardware and software aspects of their products.
Google showed up the new Pixels smartphones which will eventually replace the Nexus line and the Daydream View VR headset. Also announced were the Google Home, Google Wi-Fi router, Chromecast Ultra and touched on openness of Google Assistant, which will be available to developers (as SDK) next year.
Announced at the I/O conference back in May, Google’s voice activated speaker with built-in Google Assistant – Google Home is now available in the US. The answer to Amazon’s Echo allows the user play audio (music, podcasts and programs), manage tasks and control devices in home using voice.
To get answers and help around the house, commands starts with ‘OK Google’.
It taps into Google’s rich search history to provide real-time answers to questions on topics like ranging from weather to finance, sports, traffic and more. It can also get personal with your permission, to be able to set alarms and timers, tell traffic and flight information.
Remotely, smart home appliances by manufacturers such as Nest, Samsung and Philips, can be controlled using voice. Tapping into Google Assistant and user’s Google account, the ‘My Day’ special feature keeps track of schedules and details about the days such as weather, schedule and traffic.
Available starting November 4, Google Home will sell for $129 and can be purchased directly from Google Store, Best Buy, Target and Walmart. Similar to Google’s OnHub router, it also comes with interchangeable cases (customisable bases) to match the room’s decor.
Also at the event, Google announced what it calls the fastest Chromecast yet – the Chromecast Ultra, with advanced features such as Wi-Fi improvements, Ethernet, 4K and High Dynamic Range (HDR) support. Nearly twice faster (1.8x precisely) than previous Chromecast models, the 4K streaming dongle will arrive in November for a $69 price tag.
It fits in nicely behind the TV (HDMI port) and like the original Chromecast, user can cast content from mobile (phone and tablet) and the laptop or mirror from an Android device and from a Chrome browser on the Laptop, to the TV. It is also designed to work with Google Home, allowing voice commands.
Google believes every home deserves fast and reliable Wi-Fi, hence the introduction of Google Wi-Fi. It is described a new connected Wi-Fi system designed to connect every room and device at home with fast Wi-Fi signal.
The new router builds on the strength of OnHub and is designed to handle multiple devices streaming, downloading, and sharing at the same time. It uses mesh Wi-Fi technology and comes with a companion app for Android and iOS, to control devices connected to the Hub (enabling and disabling connection).
There is also a Network Assistant software that makes it easier to add more routers and improve signal. Pre-Orders for the Google Wi-Fi begin next month (November) and shipping begins in December. A single pack costs $129 while the three-pack costs $299.