CBS News

A first look at Google's new smart home speakers

CBS News


Google is leaping into the rapidly evolving market for smart home devices with new voice-activated speakers called "Google Home."

"CBS This Morning" had a first look at Google Home on Thursday.

The device is Google's answer to Amazon's Echo speakers, which hit the market two years ago. At the moment, Echo is "the undisputed king of the nascent smart home market," according to CNET.

Google Home syncs with your personal Google account and answers your questions harnessing Google's highly advanced search intelligence.

The product represents the continuing evolution of artificial intelligence, CNET News editor-in-chief Connie Guglielmo told "CBS This Morning."

"It's the start of this conversation where A.I. becomes part of your life and your home," she said.

As CNET points out in its product review of Google Home : "Google, of course, already knows as much or more about you than Facebook, thanks to your web history, your Gmail metadata and tracking the GPS records on your phone. And now the tech giant is aiming to use that data to out-Alexa Amazon, making the little countertop speaker a friendly face for its search-engine-powered online brain."

Google Home, which officially debuts Friday for $130, has far-field voice recognition, touch controls and hi-fi speakers, and syncs with any other Google Cast devices you might own. Designed with a discreet, modernist aesthetic, the speakers look like an air freshener or lamp. In addition to answering questions, the personal assistant device can remind you of calendar appointments or tell you when traffic is heavy before your commute.

Privacy advocates take note: the device is always listening and processing speech in its environment.

The worldwide market for smart home speakers is expected to top $2 billion by 2020, which is nearly a 500 percent increase from 2015, according to Gartner research.

In its review, CNET gave Google Home a 7.9 out of 10, concluding that while it "shows a ton of potential, it's currently not as versatile or useful as Amazon's Echo."