It’s been a month and time to look and see just how Google Home has worked its way into my life. Does it justify itself? How much am I really using it? What do I want it to do?
In the morning I will work on Tech Addicts for an hour or two before I go to my day job. At around 6:30 I will say “Google Morning” to Google Home. Home then responds with a pleasantry, followed by an outlook for the weather and any delays I can expect with my commute. This is then followed by the latest UK headlines and into the daily tech news headlines, not Tom Merritt’s unfortunately instead of a collection of tech sites Google provide from CNET, Reuters and the Guardian. Whilst I can turn them off, I generally just tell Home to ‘stop’ and be done with they, I don’t want to cancel them right now as they are better than nothing but not ideal for my daily update.
Afterwards, I will cast, from BeyondPod manually, the Daily Tech New Headlines, this time with Tom Merritt. I state manually as asking for Home to play a podcast is not supported even if you are subscribed. I understand why this isn’t working however it would be a terrific inclusion.
Occasionally, I will then pop on a little light music for the background whilst taking to the keyboard to bash something out, for example, right now. I have found myself triggering Home to say goodbye as I leave my home office in the morning to make the train.
When getting home from a rough day in the office I might take 20 minutes to chill before starting into the evening’s tasks. Having a lounge on a sofa there is a little solace in being able to request a tune, adjust the volume and skip back and forth without having to get up, or even look at a screen.
I might sit down to do a little writing after dinner and Home proves to be very useful to help with suggestions of meanings when your brain feels a little fuzzy. I sometimes forget that Home is there to answer questions and I will have looked up the spelling of a word seconds before I realise I could have just asked the question. Perhaps suggesting a synonym to help stimulate and motivate my post language.
I frequently set reminders to do something in a short space of time, for example, letting the dogs back in. Here lies another problem, you cannot say “remind me in 5 minutes to let the dogs in” instead you have to create an alarm for 5 minutes and try to remember what the alarm was for when it goes off. I know, I have a very poor memory. Having to work around the keyword of “reminder” is a pain and I have to catch myself on when I start, not to ask for that.
You can do it on your phone, but not Google Home and that’s the sort of thing that drives me mad. Google Home sits a metre away from my phone, both of them jump into action to answer the “Ok Google” keyword, however, the phone takes a step back and flashes up a notice to stay the request is being dealt with by another device, even if that device cannot handle the request whilst the phone can. The is no doubt it will be included in the near future, however, I cannot work out why it’s not there now.
During the time between my review and this update, there has been a few updates and one in particular I know I had been somewhat perturbed by, the omission of natively player podcasts from a voice command. Initially, I was having to open my PocketCasts app and cast to the Home unit before I would listen. Now things have changed, a little and I’m still perturbed. I can now ask Home to “Listen to a Podcast.” However, it would appear there are limitations, The Tech Addicts Podcast is not available, so I assume Home is fed by Play Podcasts library. This is to be expected however as the Play Podcast library is not officially available to UK podcast producers. I would have hoped Google would have had this resource open to UK users by now.
This look of the Home has never bothered me, I do think it would be much more exciting to have an LED inside that glows whilst Home is talking to you. Of course, some might think this a little tacky and it might add just that little extra personality that someone might fall in love and attempt to marry it. However, the design is a masterpiece of neutrality and whilst covers, decals and designs are available I must admit to shying away from meddling with the look as Home itself is on such a knife’s end of being useful that invest more thought and money might tip justification in the wrong direction.
It’s hard not to recommend the Google Home has an addition to your household and it’s ever evolving. I would like to think Home will continue to become more accessible, Amazon really is pushing their offering to the limit right now with the recent announcement of the Amazon Echo Show. Google Home does feel as though they might be building a more solid foundation to build a better eco-system with the Home but Amazon have the lead, Alexia is a household name and IO don’t see too many folks embracing the “Ok Google” function on the phone however it does feel more natural to have it there in the background I and I use every day. I might not be lost without it, but I would miss it if taken away. As for Amazon, I wouldn’t be 100% happy with their hardware listening. I was tempted to buy the Dot, however, I am much happier having Google Home.