Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Google Home: At your command

Christmas shopping? Consider Google Home, but read this first

Reading Time: 3 minutesWhen I asked a pre-schooler the meaning of the word “consequence”, he immediately came back with the most convenient answer: “Google it.” Of course, how could I not have seen that coming? In a world that is becoming more and more dependent on someone else for doing all the hard work, our brain is getting better and better with delegation – and becoming lazier and lazier in the bargain.
It is ironical how the human mind is trying to create a competitor for itself in artificial intelligence (AI), hoping for the latter to win.  And the more I see the creations I get a sense of relief, realizing that we humans are still superior! The latest must-have gadget Google Home proves just that.

I am no IT specialist or gadget-guru, but I take full liberty of my rights as a consumer here to review this one from first-hand experience.
1. Do not expect it to work the same as the Google search engine.
2.It will not give all the possible search results like when you type in your search. So for example when you ask about the Mesopotamian civilization, don’t expect a full history lesson. Try it and you will know what I mean.
3. Not all music is available. Do not expect it to play every possible musical reference relating to your question – this is not Youtube. Be prepared to hear this: “Choosing songs is only available to Spotify premium subscribers”. And not just that, with a little hard work, you can upload your own library of up to 50,000 songs through Google music. But the good news is, it plays Indian Link Radio through TuneIn.
4. It may turn a deaf ear to your requests sometimes.
(Granted this feature can be similar to humans, but it can ignore your commands sometimes and not respond, making you feel like a total jerk as if you were speaking to nobody.)
5. It is ‘Google to err”. It could be a sunny day outside but Google Home may get it totally wrong with forecasts of a shower and thunderstorms.
6. No news from India. Looks like there is no integration yet with the Indian media/news groups.
But obviously the masterminds at Google did not work so hard for nothing! There are features that one can take advantage of to make life easier and ‘smarter’ with a simple voice command. Yes, this is the age of the ‘smart home’ and with this newest member joining in, you know you are living in one. Let’s now look at some features that make it worth a try:
7. No prizes for guessing that it uses Google search to find answers and hence the possibility of a wider search range.
8. With Google Home, having Chromecast makes total sense, and that means you can cast anything to your TV through voice command.
9. Hurray, no more scribbled notes of ‘things to buy from the supermarket’ pushed under the fridge magnets. You can now create and manage shopping lists through your Google assistant and keep adding or removing items to it. I personally love this feature.
10. You can find recipes and make them with step-by-step instructions from your new sous chef, Google Home.
11. You can set reminders and sync your calendar, pretty much availing the luxury of a PA without a salary.
12. With a simple voice command you can control smart home devices using Google Home.
13.As a final note I’d say, be prepared to hear an apology every now and then. Not all your queries will be answered and it doesn’t claim to know it all. No, it is not really the same ‘Google baba’ that we have been friends with on the net for all these years. You will often hear this one-liner: “Sorry, I don’t know how to help with that yet, I am still learning.”
A friend specializing in AI summed it up perfectly: “Google Home is a toy, an imperfect one”. No doubt the super brains at Google will persist in perfecting it.

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Priyanka Tater
Priyanka Tater is a Radio Presenter, Producer and Freelance writer with the Indian Link Media Group. She has more than 14 years of extensive combined experience in radio, television, and marketing and a lifelong passion for travelling.

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  1. Had the Echo since late 2014 and now several Google Homes. The big difference is the Echo requires commands that you have to memorize to use versus the Google Home supports natural language for most things.
    Makes the Google Home far easier to interact with.


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