Google Home and Home Mini Now Available in Italy

Google Home in Italy Google Store

Earlier this week I posted about Google Assistant now supporting the Italian language.  The question, as I posed in that post, was if it was a prelude to the Italian Google Store seeing Google Home coming soon.  Now we know the answer is yes.

On the Google Store site in Italy, you can now purchase a Google Home or Google Home Mini.  Home is €149, about $183 while the Home Mini is €59 or about $72 US.  They are on sale now and both models are available.

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Hands Free Calling Comes to Google Home and Home Mini in the UK

Google Home

Good news for those of you in the UK.  You can now make hands free calls to contacts through your Google Home or Home Mini.  The feature rolled out in the United States last August and allows you to leverage Google Assistant to place calls to contacts or business that can be found in Google search.

Using it is very easy.  Just say, “Hey Google, Call my son”.  Because I would have tagged my son in my contacts, Google Assistant will place the outbound call to my son.  If a contact has multiple numbers, you will be prompted on which number to place the call.

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Google to Release an Update to Fix Slow WiFi Problems with Chromecast and Google Home

Google Home

Google is set to roll out an update to Google Play Services tomorrow aimed at addressing the slow WiFi issue that some users of Chromecast and Google Home have experienced.  The issue cropped up a couple of weeks ago and at first, was thought to be an issue with the new Google Home Max.  It turns out that Google Play Services was the culprit.

For those that haven’t encountered the problem (good!), it comes down to Android devices on your network as well as Chromecast and Home devices.  Essentially what was happening is that Android devices on the same network would see the Cast enabled device and flood your network with packets.  That would cause slowness or instability.  It was effectively an internal DDoS attack.

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The Google Store is Now Selling a Google Home Mini Wall Mount by Incipio

Incipio Google Home Mini Wall Mount

The Google Home Mini has become one of Google’s most popular devices for a lot of reasons, price and size chiefly among them.  The donut sized device lends itself to be tucked away in any room to give you access to Google Assistant whenever you need it.  But for some rooms, having the Home Mini mounted on the wall makes more sense and frees up counter space in your bedroom or kitchen.

Incipio has been making a wall mount for the Google Home Mini almost since its release.  It’s been available directly from them on their site but it got a big boost this week with it now being available on the Google Store.  On either site, it is $14.99 and comes with everything you need to mount your Home Mini to a wall in your home.

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Google’s Presence at CES Will Be Heavily Focused on Google Assistant

Google Assistant

For the first time in many years, Google will be at CES in Las Vegas this coming week.  It is the first time the company has had any real presence at the massive electronics show since 2015 but it has been a lot longer than that since they have had a booth.  Not only will they have a booth, a massive one in the Central Plaza, but it looks like they are going to be heavily focusing on Google Assistant during the show.

The company made a blog post yesterday, highlighting the growth of Google Assistant and Google home over the course of 2017.  Assistant is now available on 400 million devices and in a doze different countries.  But the takeaway from the post was the last paragraph.

No matter where you are, the Google Assistant is here to help you make the most of 2018. And next week, we have even more things in store for the Assistant at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. If you’re at CES, stop by the Google Assistant Playground (Central Plaza-21) to check out some of our new integrations, devices, and the newest ways you can use your Assistant

It would appear that next week, we are going to see some announcements about Assistant and, potentially, some new hardware.

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Touch Controls Coming Back to Google Home Mini

Google Home Mini

When the Google Home Mini was announced back in October, one of the highlighted features of the device were touch controls.  These controls would all you to not only adjust the volume with a touch of either side of the device, but would also allow you to long press to play or pause music amongst other things.  Unfortunately it was discovered that the touch controls could be activated without actually touching them, prompting Google to disable the feature (save the volume up and down side touches) via a software update.

It appears now that Google has sorted out a potential resolution and will soon be re-enabling the touch controls of the Google Home Mini by bringing those to the side touch areas.  There is now a software update available to those in the Home Preview Program which is enabling long presses to pause or play music while short presses of the side buttons will remain volume control.  The top tap control however remains disabled and likely will remain so given it is as much a hardware challenge as it is software.

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Google Home Mini – A Welcome Addition to Any Home

Google Home Mini

In the year since its release, there is little room for debate on the growth that Google Home and Google Assistant have seen.  The smart speaker has sold well and with brains behind it, Assistant, has continued to grow in abilities on what it can help you with in your day-to-day.  I’ve had a Google Home in my home office for nearly a year now and it is so integrated into my day that I can hardly see not having it around.

If there has been one challenge with Google Home, it has been the size.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s not huge at just under 6″ tall, but it is noticeable if you have it in a bedroom or family room.   That is where the $50 Google Home Mini comes into the picture.  Standing only 1.65″ tall and covered in an elegant fabric, the Home Mini is designed to go into various rooms of your home and just be there unobtrusively.  It is designed to blend in but remain always available and provide excellent sound quality.  The Google Home Mini truly is for the masses because of all of this and a price point that is hard to resist.

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Google Home Now Supports Sleep Timers

Google Home

Google has quietly added a great new feature to the Google Home lineup:  Sleep Timers.  According to an updated support page from the company, you can now set timers to play music for a specific duration of time as you prepare for bed or have Home play that lullaby for the little ones.   As with most Google Assistant commands for Home, it is pretty easy to setup.

The most basic way to setup a sleep timer with music is to say, “Hey Google, play (artist/genre/playlist) for (duration)”.  If you are just wanting a sleep timer, just say, “Hey Google, set a sleep timer for (duration)”.  You can also set up a sleep timer to stop at a certain time (say, 9:30 p.m.).  It is actually quite flexible in how you set up the timers.  While these fall under the category of sleep timers, you can use them for other purposes.  For example, you could set a time for 30 minutes with mediation music as you meditate in the morning.  Once the music stops, you know your session has ended.

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