Google Home has a server-side update rolling out that brings a much desired feature to the Smart Speaker device: Hands-free calling. Home users in the United States & Canada will now have the ability to place a call to a local business or a contact by saying, “Hey Google, call (business or contact)”. It is a feature that was highlighted earlier this year at Google I/O as Google continues to improve the device.
The new feature means that instead of having to pick up your mobile, you can simply make a call from any Google Home device you have in your home. Obviously the call is broadcasted via the speaker built into the device so private calls should still be dealt with from your phone.
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Google has acknowledged that they are working on a reasonably significant bug between Google Home and Google Play Music. The issue varies from user-to-user but most are experiencing one of two issues. First, purchased music is not showing up in their libraries and is not playable. Second, entire libraries for some artists are not searchable or playable. What makes it interesting is that if you open up the Google Play Music app and Cast the songs in question to Google Home, they will play.
The issue was discussed in detail in a post in the Google Product Forums for Google Home. There, users were encouraged to use the Send Feedback feature within the Home app to send detailed information to Google so they can continue to investigate. Right now, there isn’t a fix available.
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The slow but steady global availability of Google Home continues with the Google Assistant powered smart speaker coming to Australia and Germany. For Aussies, Home as well as Google WiFi will be available on July 20th while Germans will have to wait until next month before Home comes to your country. The expansion follows it coming to France and Canada earlier this year.
In Australia, Home will be available from the Google Store, JB Hi-Fi, Harvey Norman, Officeworks, The Good Guys, Telstra, Optus and Qantas Store. It will be $199 AUD, about $157US. Google WiFi will be $199 for a single unit while the 3-pack will be $499. For those in Germany, Home will be €149.
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Chalk this one up in the “about time” category.
There is an update rolling out for Google Home that finally brings the ability for Google Play Music subscribers to stream their library of uploaded and purchased music to the Smart Speaker. The update is rolling out as a device-side to your Google Home. There is no update to the Home app itself expected – but keep an eye out.
To this point, when you wanted to play music on Home, it would always stream stations from the service, regardless if you had that music in your Google Play Music library. The work-around of sorts was to specifically name an album that you have in your library, say “Play the album Clockwork Angels from Rush”. If the album you requested was in Play Music, it would play it but it was streaming from the service itself, not necessarily what you had in your library. This becomes a problem if there is an indie artist or other music that you have in your library but it isn’t in Google Play Music. The work-around above won’t work. The other work-around was to cast Play Music from your phone to your Home but that somewhat defeats the point, eh?
Continue reading “Google Home Update Brings Google Music Library Playing, Not Just Stations”
Google has announced on the Google France blog that Google Home will be coming to the country starting August 3rd. Initially it will be available online but will be followed up with in-store purchase options. The price of the Google Assistant enabled smart speaker will be a maximum of €149, roughly $170. That is substantially more than the current $129 price here in the United States.
Interestingly, Google Assistant is referred to as “Google Wizard” in the announcement.
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Good news today for Google Home users in the UK. The ability to add multiple Google accounts to the Google Assistant powered smart speaker is now available in the country. In total, you can add up to six account to the device and teach it to recognize each individual users voice. To add an account, go into Menu>Settings>Shared devices and train Google Assistant to recognize your voice. You can sen send invites to others to add their account to your Google Home.
When they add their account, they will get personalize results just like you do as the primary user. So, for example, they will get their Google calendar information and not yours. All of this supposes that you have the latest Google Home app for Android or iOS installed on your devices.
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In October 2016 I received my Google Home from the Google Store. I quickly unpacked it, got it setup using the Home app on my Nexus 6P and began issuing it random commands as I tried to learn the limits of the device. And in that process, I found out there were quite a few. As I put in my review of the device in November,
Can I without any doubt recommend Google Home? No, not yet at least. There is a lot of growing room to happen with this device and Google Assistant within it. Do I think I will change my view in 6 months? Almost certainly. By that time, Google and other developers will have leveraged the platform and APIs available to integrate more apps and more services.
So here we are, six months later almost to the day. Has it improved? Undoubtedly and it is continuing to improve.
What I expect to happen has to a large degree, with dozens of new services now available for Google Home along with better smart home integration. It feels far more complete than it did back in October, partly because of these new services but partly because Google Assistant, built into Home, has gotten smarter too. It is continually learning both on how I use it but also behind-the-scenes as Google tweaks it.
Can I recommend Google Home now? Yes, without question and here is why.
Continue reading “Google Home Six Months Later – Seemingly Always Improving”