Mobile Technology

Google unveils its Echo competitor, a new Chromecast, and a next-gen router

Google unveils its Echo compet...
You can pre-order Google Home now, and there are other goodies in store
You can pre-order Google Home now, and there are other goodies in store
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You can pre-order Google Home now, and there are other goodies in store
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You can pre-order Google Home now, and there are other goodies in store
Google Home works with your Chromecast and smart home devices, and will set you back $129
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Google Home works with your Chromecast and smart home devices, and will set you back $129
The new Chromecast Ultra is faster than its predecessor and ready for some 4K content
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The new Chromecast Ultra is faster than its predecessor and ready for some 4K content
You can enjoy Netflix in glorious 4K with the new Chromecast Ultra
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You can enjoy Netflix in glorious 4K with the new Chromecast Ultra
Google Wi-Fi, a mesh-networking route, ris another new hardware product from the giant company
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Google Wi-Fi, a mesh-networking route, ris another new hardware product from the giant company
Set up more than one Google Wi-Fi, and you can blanket your home with an internet signal
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Set up more than one Google Wi-Fi, and you can blanket your home with an internet signal
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Well, it's certainly been a busy day for Google. As well as launching two new Pixel phones and the Daydream View VR headset, the tech giant also had time today to introduce an updated 4K-capable Chromecast, tell us more about its Amazon Echo competitor, and unveil a new take on the router too.

Google Home was first announced at I/O back in May but today we got to hear more details about what it can do, thanks to a lengthy on-stage demo. Just think Google, in a speaker – weather updates, traffic reports, streaming music, and just about anything you could want to look up on the web.

One useful feature we saw demoed was a daily briefing, where Google Home reads out your upcoming appointments and everything else you need to know for the next 24 hours. Google also wants this to be a smart home hub, and integration with Samsung's SmartThings, IFTTT, Philips Hue and Nest (of course) is already in place.

The Google Assistant is built in as well, the next generation of Google Now, giving you smart and AI-powered responses that are personal to you (like local restaurant recommendations). Google has big plans for its Assistant, which is why it comes integrated into the new Allo app and its new Pixel phones.

You can pre-order Google Home now for US$129 in the US, which is around $50 cheaper than the full-sized Amazon Echo. At that price you might be tempted to buy one for each room, and they can be set up to work together across multiple rooms.

You can also use Google Home to throw up content on a connected Chromecast – just ask to see a YouTube video up on your TV and Google Home and your Chromecast will work magically together to make it so.

That brings us neatly on to another new product we saw at Google's event in San Francisco. The Chromecast Ultra is exactly what it sounds like, an upgraded version of Google's magic streaming dongle that's capable of handling 4K resolutions and HDR. Considering the success of the previous Chromecasts, it looks likely to be another sure-fire hit.

You can enjoy Netflix in glorious 4K with the new Chromecast Ultra
You can enjoy Netflix in glorious 4K with the new Chromecast Ultra

Google says the latest version is 1.8 times faster than its predecessor and it's going to be available next month for the very reasonable price of $69 in the US.

And finally, for today's barrage of Google products, there's Google Wi-Fi. Not only will it replace your router, it can eliminate dead spots around the home if you're prepared to get several set up at once.

That extra functionality makes it a mesh router in the style of the Eero and other similar devices: rather than having one device stuck in the corner of your house beaming out internet, you have several, all intelligently managing your connections.

There's a feature that will be of particular interest to parents too: the ability to control kids' access to the web, even down to individual devices.

Google Wi-Fi will be available to pre-order in November with shipping in December. Only US prices have been announced so far, with one unit costing you $129 and a three-pack available for $299.

There's been a lot to take in from Google today, but one thing's certain – it's well and truly in the hardware game now.

Product pages: Google Store

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1 comment
Synchro
Google really is getting better at extracting more and more value from their primary product, our personal data, to sell to advertisers. With this crop of products, they have also pretty much entirely given up on even pretending that Android is open source.