The trend of smart voice-activated speakers started only a few years ago, and it is still a niche market, ruled mainly Amazon’s Echo. Now, Google has stepped into the fray, with the India launch of its own smart speaker range—that includes Google Home and Google Home Mini—both of which are powered by the Google Assistant.  With this launch, Google is directly taking on rivals Amazon for a stake in India’s smart speaker market. The new gadget boasts a high-end design and top features, and looks like it is going to create quite an impact on the tech landscape.

The design of Google Home is inspired by the daily products found in homes—like candles or wine glasses. The top surface features an LED light which gives visual feedback confirming that it is activated after you say “Ok Google” or “Hey Google”. The top is also equipped with a touch panel, which allows users to pause, play or adjust the volume of the speaker. Two microphones, linked to voice-recognition software, are also part of the setup.

The device has an elegant look—its base comes in a slate fabric colour and the body is white.

Google Home Mini, on the other hand, has a sleek structure with no corners or edges. It is a handy, portable device wrapped in a specially crafted material which is durable and soft, but also transparent enough to let through both light and sound. It is a circular speaker that can project 360-degree sound. The Mini is available in chalk and charcoal colours, with coral coming soon.

Google Home is basically designed to make your life easier especially when your hands are full. You can ask it anything and everything, whether it is some work-related detail, or information on the ingredient list for a specific recipe, or the top appointments from your daily schedule. Up to six people can connect to Google Home at a time, and it can distinguish between all the six voices giving each one respective answers.

The speaker comes with pre-paid six-month subscription of Google Play Music and offers on other music apps like Gaana and Saavn. The music features here are programmed to help you choose the right tracks to suit your mood. The device is compatible with brands like Philips Hue, D-Link and TP-Link, which are mostly used connect in electronic devices at home. So you don’t have to worry in case you left the lights on while leaving home in a hurry.

If you have Chromecast, a device plugged into a television port that enables you to control your TV via smartphone or computer, you can even see your favourite shows on Netflix or YouTube or television with just one voice command. Grouping all Google Home devices (with Chromecast Audio, Chromecast built-in and Bluetooth speakers) in the house, you can enjoy the same music in every room.

After the India launch of the spearkers, an official statement on the Google India Blog said, “With Google Home, we’re working with our partners to bring you many great launch offers: when buying Google Home or Google Home Mini on Flipkart you get a free JioFi router along with special offers on exchange and streaming music subscriptions; when buying a Google Home at Reliance Digital or MyJio stores you get a free JioFi router with 100GB of high-speed 4G data (worth Rs 2,499), and at select Philips Hue and Croma outlets you get a Philips Hue + Google Home Mini at a special bundled price. Also ACT Fibernet retail customers subscribing to 12-month advance rental plans of 90MBPS and above, will receive a Google Home Mini. And above all, users get 10% cashback when purchasing using HDFC Bank credit cards. Your Assistant on Google Home will continue to get better over time as we add more features (look out for Hindi support coming later this year!) And Google Home is open to third-party apps for the Assistant, so expect even more of your favourite services and content.”

The price for Google Home in India is Rs 9,999 and that of Google Home Mini is Rs, 4,499.

With the launch of Google Home, Alphabet, the company that owns Google, has directly taken on their supremely successful market rivals, Amazon. The competition is neck and neck. Amazon AI assistant, Alexa, is a powerful piece of software. But Google is among the world leaders in the field of AI. So the Google Assistant, which gets smarter with time, is not to be underestimated.

Google Home is more capable of extracting web-based information, thanks to its highly advanced search engine. Even in terms of design, Google wins the battle, due to its touch screen feature. However, the Echo scores higher on sound quality. And if you are a frequent Amazon Prime user, Amazon’s Echo becomes a more sensible investment.

Maybe your best bet is to go out and buy both Amazon Echo and Google Home.

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