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Google's 'Home' Voice Assistant To Rival Amazon Echo

By Victor Thomson , May 19, 2016 04:30 AM EDT
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Google has announced a new home digital assistant device that is voice-controlled.

The New York Times reports that Google has introduced its voice-controlled digital assistant device for the home at the Google I/O developer conference in San Francisco. The stand-alone unit called "Google Home" will be made available in the fall.

According to Marketing Land, Google Home aims to directly compete with assistant Alexa and Amazon Echo that has now evolved from single voice-enabled units into a line of smart-home devices and voice-controlled speakers. According to the same publication, Amazon has already sold an estimated 3 million Echo units.

Echo is beating out Kindles in sales figures and it has become the best-selling Amazon hardware product. With Echo and Alexa, Amazon has become a leader in the smart-home race.

Recently, Echo has been enhanced with Kayak travel search capabilities. Now, Echo is turning into a platform for third-party services and content.

Using Alexa/Echo, it is also possible to order pizza or call an Uber. The repertoire of services in Echo has been quickly expanding ,and it is expected that it will become ultimately more transactional.

Google's motivation to launch its Google Home is improving a successful product. The company's move is also partly defensive. Google aims to compete with Amazon in the smart-home market. Moreover, the Internet search giant sees virtual assistants as a potential long-term threat to traditional search.

Google's structured data and search assets could enable its developers to build a broader set of capabilities into Home. Google could connect Home with mobile search histories and users' PC to provide a more personalized experience as well.

According to Tech Hive, Google's small home device will be shaped roughly like company's OnHub Wi-Fi router and will add Google's voice agent. Google added "trigger word" or hotword support to Android phones since 2014. The features allow them to respond to the "OK Google" command that would presumably be also used to command the new Google Home device. 

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