Google launches the Google Home and Home Mini in India
The Google Home was launched in 2016 as Google’s entry into the smart speaker space. It was followed by the launch of the affordable Home Mini and the high-end Home Max in October 2017. Up until now, though, Google hadn’t launched its smart speakers in India, while Amazon’s Echo smart speakers have been available in the country since November. At the start of this month, Google announced that the Google Home and Home Mini would be launched in India on April 10, and at an event in Delhi, the company officially launched them in the country.
The Google Home Mini costs Rs. 4499 ($69), while the Google Home costs Rs. 9999 ($154). The prices match the pricing of Amazon’s Echo speakers in India. However, it should be noted that they are more expensive than the US prices of the Home and Home Mini. The company did not launch the high-end Google Home Max in India. Let’s take a look at the features of the Google Home as well as the Home Mini:
Google Home and Home Mini – hardware and features
The Google Home is a voice-activated speaker powered by the Google Assistant. Users can use two wake commands to wake up the device and get answers and manage everyday tasks: “Ok Google” and “Hey Google”. According to Google, Home understands Indian accents, and it understands unique Indian contexts. Also, as Google Assistant is the same across all Google devices, Home works seamlessly with smartphones, particularly with queries such as getting directions, where users can tell Home to push the directions to Google Maps on their smartphone.
The top surface of Google Home has LEDs that provide visual feedback when the speaker recognizes the wake commands, so that the users know when it’s listening. The top surface is a capacitive touch panel as well, and users can use their finger to pause or adjust volume in media playback.
The Google Home has two microphones that enable far-field voice recognition. Google states that the microphone system uses neural beam forming, which consists of simulating “hundreds of thousands of noisy environments” and applying machine learning to “recognize patterns that allow [the company] to filter and separate speech from noise.” Therefore, voice recognition is said to be “best-in-class” and error rates are minimized. Home will be available in India in the Chalk color variant.
The Home Mini, on the other hand, is the competitor to Amazon’s Echo Dot, and it’s intended as a smaller, more affordable smart speaker. Google states that the speaker is “almost entirely enclosed in custom fabric,” and the company has created this material “from scratch.” The material is said to be durable and soft, while being transparent enough to let light and sound through. It’s available in Chalk and Charcoal colors, with Coral coming soon.
The Home Mini has four LED lights underneath the fabric that light up to show users when it’s thinking or hearing for queries. It also has far-field microphones, and its circular design “projects 360-degree sound with just one speaker.”
The functionality of the Google Assistant-powered Home lineup is broad. Users can use it to ask questions, translate phrases, run calculations, find nutritional information, unit conversions, and more. Home is also said to have a distinctly Indian voice, and it can answer questions such as getting the recipe for dum biryani.
Users can also give Home permission to help with things such as their daily commute, daily schedule, and more. Up to six people can connect their account to one Google Home. It can distinguish a user’s voice from other people in their family, and give users personalized answers.
Google Home also works with smart devices. Users can control their lights, switches and more if they have compatible smart devices from brands like Philips Hue, D-Link and TP-Link.
Finally, in terms of customization, users can customize the base of Google Home with different colors.
Google Home and Home Mini – availability and launch offers
The Google Home and Home Mini joins the Made by Google family of hardware products in India. It will be available online exclusively on Flipkart, while also being available in over 750 retail stores across the country including Reliance Digital, Croma, Bajaj Electronics, Vijay Sales, Sangeetha, and Poorvika.
When users buy a Google Home or Home Mini on Flipkart, they will get a free JioFi router along with special offers on exchange. When they buy a Google Home at Reliance Digital or MyJio stores, they will get a free JioFi router with 100GB of high-speed 4G data that is supposed to be worth Rs. 2499. At select Philips Hue and Croma outlets, users will get a Philips Hue + Google Home Mini at a “special bundled price.” ACT Fibernet retail customers subscribing to 12-month advance rental plans of 90Mbps and above will receive a Google Mini. Finally, users will get a 10 percent cashback when buying through HDFC Bank credit cards.
The Google Home and Home Mini will be available for Rs. 9999 ($154) and Rs. 4499 ($69) respectively.
Hindi support and integration with third-party apps
Google Assistant in Hindi officially rolled out a few weeks ago, but Hindi support won’t be a part of Home at launch. Instead, Google states that it’s coming “later this year.” It’s worth noting that the Home’s chief competitor, the Amazon Echo, doesn’t currently have full support for Hindi.
Also, the Home will be open to third-party apps for Google Assistant, so users can expect integration with third-party services in the future.