Google Announces Google Home, Its Chromecast-Powered, Amazon Echo-Like Smart Loudspeaker

Google Home
Janko Roettgers / Variety

Google officially announced its own smart loudspeaker dubbed Google Home at its Google I/O developer conference in Mountain View, California Wednesday. Google Home is a Wifi speaker that can be used to ask Google for information, control devices in one’s home and query one’s calendar.

In may ways, it works similar to Amazon’s Echo, which Google CEO Sundar Pichai credited for “bringing a lot of excitement to this space.” However, Google clearly thinks it has an edge over Amazon by tapping into the voice recognition technology it has developed for mobile phones. “Google Home is unmatched in far-field voice recognition,” said Google VP Mario Queiroz, who is also in charge of Google Chromecast and Android TV.

Speaking of which: Google Home comes with Google Cast support, the same technology that also powers Google’s Chromecast and Chromecast Audio adapters. This makes it instantly compatible with numerous audio apps, making it possible to stream music apps like Spotify and Pandora. Google Home will also be able to interact and work with other Cast devices, and for example start video playback on Chromecast with a voice command.

The announcement came as part of the keynote at Google’s annual Google I/O developer conference in Mountain View, California Wednesday. It’s also part of a bigger move to get better at conversational voice assistance, something that the company calls Google Assistant.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai said that 20 percent of Google’s search queries on its Android app in the U.S. are already voice queries. “We have invested the last decade in building the best natural language processing capabilities.” He claimed that Google is “far ahead of everyone else,” an obvious swipe at Amazon and the natural language recognition capabilities of its Alexa digital assistant.

Reports about Google introducing an Echo competitor first surfaced this March. This week, the New York Times reported that the device would be called Google Home.