The Google Assistant has been bundled into the browser, added into Android, and squeezed into Android Wear: now, it’s getting a sleek object d’art for the smart home. Google Home is the search giant’s take on the smart speaker space, a direct challenge to everyone’s current favorite virtual PA, Amazon’s Alexa. At $129, Google Home undercuts Echo (though not Echo Dot) and, if your digital life is already in Google’s cloud, it promises a more streamlined way to consume that data around the home.
If Amazon’s Echo is a vaguely ominous totem, Google Home opts for a more curvaceous, less threatening design. It’s a little like an essential oil defuser, only one with interchangeable base sections. Screw apart the two halves – they cling together magnetically – and you can switch out the lower grille for different colors like the pumpkin-orange shown here, or various metal and fabric finishes.
Inside, there’s a 2-inch driver and twin 2-inch passive radiators, while on the bottom there’s a socket for the power adapter. Despite embracing USB Type-C on the Pixel and Pixel XL, Home relies on a proprietary power plug, and there’s no battery option for entirely wireless use. Slide your finger in a circle clockwise or anti-clockwise on the angled top, and you adjust the volume.
It’s still early days with Google Home – too early, in fact, for a full review. Google provided us with access to the Beta Program ahead of the official public launch tomorrow, but life on the cutting edge isn’t always entirely smooth. Some of the features Home promises either didn’t work consistently, or wouldn’t work properly at all.