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Thursday, May 18, 2017

Google Home throws down the gauntlet at I/O 2017 - CNET

The battle between the Google Home and the Amazon Echo keeps getting better and better. Yesterday, a year after Google first announced the Home and the Google Assistant, the search giant might have just shown the road map to put the Home ahead for good.
To this point, the Google Home smart speaker has lagged behind Amazon's competing Echo devices in terms of the things it can do. Amazon had a head start with Echo, bringing it to the market in 2014, and as a result, the Echo has more than 10,000 skills and works directly with dozens of internet connected hardware products. The Google Home only started with four device partners, but it has been catching up.
Since the Home speaker debuted last year, Google has quietly added and improved on a number of features -- flexible voice commands for controlling connected household devices, conversational recipe instructions in the kitchen, and personal assistance tied to your Google Calendar and Google Maps account. At its Google I/O developer's conference in Mountain View, California, Google added abilities that will be hard for Amazon to match, and announced better versions of a couple of Echo's recent upgrades.

The battle so far

The Home and the Echo have had an epic back and forth battle.Chris Monroe/CNET

The two-year-old Echo was clearly the superior device when the Home launched last November. Both devices are always-listening smart speakers that respond to your voice commands and act as a personal assistant, music streamer, and smart home controller, among other things.

Roughly a month ago, Google expanded its list of device partners for the Home and its built-in Google Assistant, which helped the Home compete more strongly against the Echo as a smart home control device. Then, the Google Home passed the Echo as a personal assistant with the ability to recognize multiple voices. This feature allows the Home to give more personalized assistance based on the account information, like Google Calendar entries, specific to each person that the Home has been trained to recognize.

Amazon struck back by rolling out voice calling to the Echo, adding notifications and announcing two new Echo devices; an Alexa-equipped camera called Echo Look and a device with a screen called Echo Show.

Amazon's head start and aggressive marketing have also given its Echo product line a powerful lead in market share. Research firm eMarketer estimates that 70 percent of people that own a smart speaker have either an Echo or one of the other products from the Echo line.

Google Home throws down the gauntlet at I/O 2017 - CNET

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