4-October, Mountain View – Most of the headlines from Google’s big news event might be about the Pixel smartphones, but it was the home technology that’s really cool.
Google took to the stage on 4 October with a large roster of new hardware. A pair of Pixel Android smartphones were the stars of the show, but you’ll note that Google has dropped the Nexus brand and there’s no new tablet on offer. Is the tablet market really dying? That’s a debate for another day.
However, since the world is full of smartphones, of more interest at the event was Google’s additional hardware; Google Home, Google WiFi and Chromecast Ultra.
Google Home is the company’s answer to Amazon Echo with a smart, stylish flexible design that is styled to fit in any living room without looking like a Death Star or technology obelisk. On the outside, there’s no scary LEDs, just a touch control for volume and a hidden microphone on or off button. Inside are a couple of microphones with far field hearing so you can talk to it from around the room. There’s also speakers to play your favorite music, but the heart of the machine is connected to Google’s Assistant.
Talk to it and you can discuss the weather, upcoming events on your schedule, interact with smart home devices such as Philips Hue, Nest, Samsung SmartThings and IFTTT, or control your smart TV or music system via the Chromecast.
Google WiFi is the latest in the increasingly busy smart home router market. Instead of one cheap and nasty router connected to your cable or phone line, this can put up to three boxes around the home forming a seamless and powerful network to feed data and stream media to any device in any room. Using smart beamforming and clever software it will provide the strongest signal where it is needed.
Chromecast Ultra is the final piece in Google’s home puzzle, bringing 4K streaming to compatible TV sets for just $69. Controlled via smartphone app and with the addition of Ethernet connectivity, the Chromecast is a popular little dongle that should make a great tech stocking filler this year.
YouTube: Meet your Google Assistant, your own personal Google
I’ve been writing about technology. PCs and mobile for over 10 years, covering news, tutorials, reviews, comparisons and other pieces across magazines and websites.