The great rivalry: Google Home launches in the UK

Google Home has just launched in the UK, following the incredibly successful arrival of Amazon’s Echo last year.

The virtual AI-led assistant provides a glimpse into the future of how people will interact with their increasingly smart homes.

Like the Echo, Google Home’s aim is to aid people in their daily lives, whether that be answering questions in super-fast time or waking an individual up with their favourite song.

“Google must be desperate to avoid another Google Glass-style disaster, but luckily it could be onto a winner with Google Home,” says Perry Krug, principal architect at Couchbase EMEA.

>See also: Smart home technology at a tipping point in the UK

“So far the connected home ideal has lacked an effective and attractive hub, allowing devices and services to cohesively talk to each other: by providing this, virtual assistants may become the most important brick in the connected home.”

“With developments in natural language voice recognition, AI and machine learning, and its near endless supply of internet search and mobile data, Google is in prime position to become this hub. However, it must be noted that Amazon arguably has superior data on what its users are doing in the physical world.”

Data will certainly be crucial in delivering the most personalised experience to users.

As smart devices become more ingrained into houses and the virtual assistant’s technology advances, this will extend from regulating heating to running the shower/bath at a predetermined time.

However, at the moment, like PCs and smartphones before, virtual assistants will be fairly ‘basic’ in their capacity.

At first, suggests Krug, “they will only be able to perform everyday tasks, such as asking for train times and controlling other smart devices. However, as these devices learn more about us and new applications are launched, they will be able to provide a much deeper and more valuable service.”

>See also: Google Assistant vs Amazon Alexa: which is the best intelligent assistants?

What will it take for Google Home to succeed?

Krug suggests that if the Google Assistant, indeed any virtual assistant, is to succeed then people need to have the same attachment with it that they do to their phones.

To do this, Google Home needs “to provide a truly rich and varied user experience, which means becoming the control point for everything and every service used in the home.

This includes compatibility with smartphones, smart light bulbs, home security systems and even our bank accounts, as well as digital services like Spotify, Uber and Netflix.”

“We are only at the beginning of this evolution, but organisations of every description will be scrambling to create dedicated apps in the hope that virtual assistants do become the next big thing, and that they can ride that wave.”


Nominations are now open for the Tech Leaders Awards 2017, the UK’s flagship celebration of the business, IT and digital leaders driving disruptive innovation and demonstrating value from the application of technology in businesses and organisations. Nominating is free and simply: just click here to enter. Good luck!

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Nick Ismail

Nick Ismail is a former editor for Information Age (from 2018 to 2022) before moving on to become Global Head of Brand Journalism at HCLTech. He has a particular interest in smart technologies, AI and...

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