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Google turns Voice Search into Assistant, reveals Home device
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MacNN Staff
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May 18, 2016, 01:53 PM
Google is altering the way it performs voice search queries to take on Siri and other competitors, becoming more conversational and assistant-like, with the upgraded Google Voice Search renamed Google Assistant. At the same time, it is attempting to fend off dedicated assistant devices, like the Amazon Echo and Alexa, confirming the rumors by announcing Google Home, a similar network-connected speaker device the company expects to ship later this year.

The Google Assistant still lacks a "name", like Cortana and Siri, and uses the same voice prompts as before, but focuses on answering queries in a more conversational way. The system can handle queries based on the context of the user, such as identifying who their grandmother is for the command "Call Gran," or using positional information to identify a monument when asked "What is this?" when the user is standing next to it.

It appears some of Viv's capabilities have also been implemented in the Google Assistant. A query for what's playing at the local theater can display three suggestions of movies to watch, based on the user's preferences. "We're taking the kids this time" can change the suggestions to more child-friendly movies, and "We'll take four tickets" can automatically book seats for the user, displaying a QR code on a Google Now card ready for when they arrive.

The device, Google Home, certainly has echoes of the Amazon Echo, consisting of a speaker with a microphone that can answer queries using the Google Assistant. The default version is white, but Google claims it will be customizable, with the speaker at the base and microphone holes, along with LEDs, at the top, while the side appears to have a single button.

Notably, it is also able to connect to other smart home devices, such as the Nest thermostat or Chromecast, allowing for vocal commands to affect the heating system, or for music or other media to be played through a specific speaker or display. A demonstration video shows the Google Home as routing audio to all speakers in a home, and lowering the temperature of the house when the entire family leaves at the same time.

Steve Wilkinson
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May 18, 2016, 02:17 PM
Heh... that should be the *last* thing anyone wants... a device from Google in their home recording everything going on. If they can't come up with a good name, might I suggest, Big Brother Direct Connect, or BBDC for short?

So, we now have 'screens' that filter information to fit certain ideologies. And, now devices to record our every move, and report back. That's getting pretty close to the homes in Nineteen Eighty-Four.
Steve Wilkinson
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May 18, 2016, 05:29 PM
"Google, open my garage door".
"I'm sorry, Hal. I'm afraid I can't do that"
Charles Martin
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May 19, 2016, 12:20 AM
Given the look, I should hope it's also an air freshener. #boom #micdrop #cheapshot
Charles Martin
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