It’s been over two months since I first got my hands on Google Home, and I’ve been really impressed. For a company that had never made a smart home device before, Google Home was a perfect response to Amazon’s Echo. At launch, Home promised to bring more features over time, but did Google live up to the hype?
Let me get my complaints out of the way first. Home won’t pick up your voice from more than a room away, and for the device to be called “Home” but not work throughout your home is a disappointment. In addition, one day the mics stopped working entirely. I restarted the device and they still didn’t work. Only once I searched Google did I find the correct solution: Blowing hard on the mics. Yep. After that, it worked again.
In addition, if someone has recently used Home and turned down the speaker, it’s hard to hear Google’s answer. Last complaint: It would be great if Google offered a similar, inexpensive satellite device with Google Assistant, like Amazon’s Echo Dot. Nvidia did just announce the Spot at CES, but it’s not out yet and if your house’s outlets aren’t conveniently placed, Spot won’t do you much good. What about Google Wifi? Couldn’t it have featured Google Assistant? It seems like such an easy decision, and if Google had had another month of development, I bet they could have implemented it.
Okay, now that I’ve made Google Home sound like the worst smart home device ever, give me a few minutes to justify purchasing it.
If you really came to this video just for one reason why you should buy Google Home, here it is. I created a custom IFTTT script that finds my phone, even when my phone’s wifi and data are off.
In addition, asking Assistant for little random facts and answers to questions is really fun. Speaking of fun, it would be great if Google would add some more “fun” features like Alexa’s Skills. Clearly, Assistant doesn’t need to fart or play a dungeon adventure, but they are still nice features to have. Alexa already has hundreds of these add-ons, and it doesn’t seem so hard for Google to open Assistant’s API so developers can make apps for it.
Assistant does have some pretty tight integration with Android phones, but later down the line, it would also be great to see calling, texting, and email come to Home.
In my unboxing and first look, I mentioned that the top panel would get dirty. However, I would like to retract this statement. My unit is still clean. However, if you want to spice up the look of Google Home beyond the bottom speaker cover, Slickwraps has some awesome looking Google Home skins (no, we’re not sponsored by them, their skins are just great).
It’s conclusion time. My family hasn’t used Home that much, and I know why. There just aren’t enough features. At launch, Google promised there would be new features added every day, and frankly, I haven’t seen that and it’s been over five months since launch. Alexa has tons of skills and a huge personality, while Google only has a few games.
I, like many other consumers, fell for Google’s promises. I believed in Google’s ability to roll out features over time, and I was disappointed. Google just didn’t pull it off the same way that Amazon did, which is why at the time of review, I cannot recommend Google Home. Unless you are a developer, a huge smart home enthusiast, or a giant Google fan, it’s not the product for you.
Do yourself a favor and buy an Amazon Echo if you’re looking for a home assistant. Its user base is larger and the scope of its skills is much wider.
I really really wish I could have recommended Home. I wanted so much to like it. But with all the problems and shortcomings, it seems Google couldn’t walk the walk as much as they could talk the talk.