Home News and Editorial Local Home control for Google Assistant leaves beta

Local Home control for Google Assistant leaves beta

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At last year’s Google I/O the Assistant team announced a beta of their Local Home SDK to allow local command and control of Smart Home devices by Google Assistant hardware. Today the SDK graduated from Beta into an official public release.

What does Local Home control do?
Simply put, the SDK allows developers to build micro Java apps that can run on Google Assistant hardware to both map out the local network and search for devices that work with the SDK and enable local control of those devices. No more waiting for your Assistant commands to travel up and back to the cloud, you should get near instantaneous control locally.

With the SDK now out of beta we will hopefully see more device makers enable the local control features. As a heavy user of Google Assistant’s home automation features it would certainly be welcome to reduce the latency often experienced with using the platform.

We’ve currently got a Google Assistant Lamp on the review bench that includes Local Home control so we should be able to report back soon on how the platform performs.

10 COMMENTS

  1. With 50+ devices in my house; lights, TVs, speakers, security cameras etc, I really hope this significantly improves the whole systems. I am constantly getting serious lag, casting to groups that just don’t appear as an option, having to shut everything down and open again, casting inconsistencies, especially with Google Podcast, I have been really annoyed with the whole thing lately.

    • The lag does not increase as you add more devices to your environment, it remains the same as it’s nothing to do with your local devices, is because the commands have to be sent to Google’s cloud services over your internet connection, be interpreted, then an API call made from Google to the cloud services of the device being controlled, and that in return triggers those cloud services to push down the relevant command to your device, again over the internet. That all takes time, but isn’t influenced by how many devices you have. All this does is allow devices to have control interfaces locally on your network and let’s the device developer teach your Google Homes how to talk directly to those local control interfaces over your network, this cutting out all that bizo going to the internet and 2 different cloud services.
      And btw, this has actually been available and many device manufacturers are already using this since earlier last year – this is just formally launching the feature as no longer “beta” in Google’s eyes. But you’ve long been able to experience the increase in performance. That wasn’t made clear in the article at all!
      The other issue that introduces a lot of latency in commands (and therefore also in Routines) is the ML agent needed to translate your speech into text, and then the separate ML agent needed to deduce your intent from that text. This takes time, and almost all of it has to be done by recording your words and sending to Google’s servers to process because the CPU in the speakers don’t have the grunt. That adds a lot of extra time, especially with a slow internet connection. Frankly is amazing Google have made it as quick as it is. If/when Google finally roll out more generally the new Google Home firmware neural net models (their innovation managed to dramatically reduce the size/storage requirement for the models, which meant they now fit on Home devices and the computational load is significantly reduced) much more of the deducing intent will happen locally and much more quickly, eliminating even more of that annoying delay.

      Unfortunately, none of this will impact your casting or Google Podcast issues, they are completely unrelated.
      Casting is much more related to your network/broad/multicasting and how discovery services mDNS etc work. Even with Google’s own wifi I have problems with cast targets not appearing. Sometimes it’s just a case of waiting for that device to reannounce itself on the network and/or swiping away the app to force it to refresh it’s network list (Google definitely need to improve this, esp for environments with more than a few speaker groups). Hint: be aware that when casting to a speaker group, but even more so, to a stereo speaker pair – when you end the cast session (or it breaks for some reason) the members of the group/pair split temporarily (with one speaker usually dropping out of all rooms and appearing at the very bottom of the Home app) as they reset and announce themselves on the network. You can see this happening in the Home app if you open it quickly and refresh. It can take 10 or 20 seconds (guessing) to settle down. Meantime some apps don’t refresh fully/quickly enough to handle this and get stuck with old data for even longer. Open Home, refresh until you see the speaker group/pair correctly displayed and you can open it and see it’s config. Then swipe away the problematic app you were trying to cast from and open it again. Should be fine after that. (Google music is a big offender)
      Podcast app is a joke. They’ve recently broken the UI again, redesigned by someone who has never podcaster! And casting has never worked properly from it, can’t even control volume, and it used to crash and lock up when trying to FF/rew. No amount of feedback has ever been taken on even with such basic fundamental bugs. Unfortunately Google has some products that are owned and managed strategically, with properly agile dev cycles integrating tight customer feedback loops. And other products that have clearly been assigned to the office junior who does whatever and resents it, because the product is clearly an ugly sister, and they are just ticking a box to say they’ve filled that gap

    • Sounds more like a local network issue. I bet you’ve got switches stacked up. If your network topology is too complicated, consumer switches can be very inefficient. If all those devices are on wifi, I’m surprised your WiFi is working at all. There’s some ways around those issues but the bottom line is you probably need to upgrade to prosumer network hardware. Check out the Ubiquity ecosystem. A couple of their access points and it’ll be like a new internet.

      • I have the Orbit Mesh AC3000
        Before that I had the Netgear Nighthawk.
        Same issues.
        It’s the drop outs and device/group refresh and accuracy that’s the most annoying.

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