As rumoured, Google’s Assistant-powered smart speaker Google Home and mesh wifi system Google Wifi will launch in Australia from July 20th.
Google Home will be retailing for $199 from The Google Store, JB Hi-Fi, Harvey Norman, Officeworks, The Good Guys, Telstra, Optus and Qantas Store. Google Wi-Fi will be available for $199 for a single access point, or for $499 in a 3-pack from the Google Store, JB Hi-Fi, Harvey Norman, The Good Guys, and Officeworks.
Google has some competition here on price, with Kogan selling the imported model from the US for $175 (+ delivery). For convenience sake though, paying the extra $24 to just walk in and grab one from a retailer with a local warranty may be worth it.
What can I do with it?
Google Home is first and foremost a smart speaker, the physical home for the Google Assistant. You can interact with it just by speaking to it and ask things you’d normally ask of an assistant – traffic on the way to work, get a rundown of your calendar as you get ready for the day ahead, or you can ask it general information questions and it’ll respond with information drawn from the web using the power of Google Search.
Google has a list of what commands you can use with Google Home if you really want to take it to the max just head to g.co/home/explore.
It’s also Chromecast-enabled (and soon to be Bluetooth enabled as well). You can cast to it from over 100 Chromecast enabled apps, including home-grown podcast app Pocket Casts.
Home’s built-in high-excursion speakers include a 2″ driver + dual 2″ passive radiators to deliver ‘crystal-clear highs and rich bass’. After owning 3 of these things for some time, it’s a pretty great sound, especially when grouped with other Chromecast Audio or Homes into a multi-room Chromecast Audio group for music filling the whole house.
For the home automation enthusiasts, Google Home also supports Home control for your smart lights and switches, as well as Chromecast plugged into your TV.
Google has partnered with Stan for the launch and you can now cast content from them as well as YouTube and Netflix.
If you want to get funky with Google Home you can also get IFTTT integrations to perform a host of functions with other smart devices.
The top of Home includes a touch-sensitive panel and LED lights which lets you control volume, with the LEDs lighting up in a volume ring, as well as lighting up when you talk to Google Assistant.
You can set up your Google Home easily in the Google Home app available in Google Play. If you’ve got Chromecasts’ around your house you’ll likely already have this one installed, but if not, grab it now.
Google continues to make Home better. We’ve seen over the last several months since its US release updates made available to Google Home over the Air automatically.
For the Australian launch of Google Home, Google’s taught the Assistant to speak and understand some of our colloquialisms so you can speak to it naturally in your own voice.
Google Home will have the familiar Australian accent that the Assistant has had when you load it up, and it now includes Aussie content – you and ask it ‘What sound does a Kookaburra make?’ and it’ll play back audio. There’s also some easter eggs like when you ask it ‘Are you going to Bonnie Doon?’ (someone at Google Australia is clearly a fan of The Castle). Google Home will also understand when you’re talking about brekkie, mozzies or trying to find the nearest servo.
Google has partnered with Australian sources for the launch of Home, when you ask for top news stories Home will read you the latest stories from Fox Sports, ABC NEWS, The Australian, Huffington Post, TechCrunch and SKY NEWS. There’s no news about podcasts coming to Google Music (sigh), but you can get podcasts through Tune-In Radio on Google Home.
Want a bonus for buying a Google Home? Google is adding a 6 month YouTube Red subscription for new YouTube Red and Google Play Music subscribers to give you something to play – remember YouTube has an almost endless supply of music videos to stream.
The offer lasts until the 15th of January 2018, and you can head to Yt.be/red/home for more information.
While Google chose not to bring their OnHub router to Australia, we’re getting in on their second foray into routers – Google Wi-Fi – which is hitting stores at the same time as Google Home.
Google Home is a basic app controlled Wi-Fi router when working as a single access point, but when paired up with another, or in the case of the three pack, another two access point you get mesh networking.
Mesh Networking is the new hotness with home routers, with Netgear, TP-Link and other companies releasing mesh networking routers this year – some of which we’ve reviewed already. The Google Wi-Fi mesh network creates a high-powered connection between access points, with the different Wifi points working together to find the best path to the internet or other network connected devices.
Simply put, you can walk around the house with Google Wi-Fi connecting to the best access point to get you the data you want when you need it.
To get technical, Google Wi-Fi supports dual-band Wifi (2.4GHz/5GHz) supporting IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n/ac. Each access point has 2x Gigabit Ethernet ports with the ports listed as WAN and LAN on the primary Wifi point, but can act as LAN ports on additional points if you need them to.
With Google Wi-Fi your Google account controls the experience on your phone or tablet letting you login to an app that simplifies your internet connection and offers some great features. You can pause Wi-Fi on kids’ devices or check the internet speed and if you’re having issues the assistant can diagnose the issues and help you to fix them.
A number of Ausdroiders have imported units from overseas and been using both Google Home and Wi-Fi for some time. We’ve delivered our thoughts on Home already, but we’ll be taking a look at the new Australia specific features soon. We’ll also be taking a closer look at Google WiFi, with a full review coming soon.
If you’ve been using Google Home or Google Wi-Fi let us know in the comments what you think.