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Google Home, Home Mini speaker launched in India: Here’s everything they offer

Google Home and Home Mini speaker have been announced for India at a price of Rs 9,999 and Rs 4,999 respectively. Here are details on the two speakers.

Written by Shruti Dhapola | New Delhi |
Updated: April 12, 2018 9:46:45 am
Google, Google Home, Google Home speaker, Google Home price in India, Google Home sale, Google Home mini, Google Home speaker features, Google Home Mini price in India Google Home and Google Home Mini speaker launched in India: In this photo, Rishi Chandra, Google VP of Product Management launches the new devices. (Image source: Google India)

Google Home and Home Mini speaker have been announced for the Indian market. Google Home and Home Mini bluetooth speakers are powered by the Google Assistant. Both speakers will go on sale on Flipkart from today.  The two speakers will also be made available in offline retail stores like Croma, Reliance Digital, etc. The Google Home speaker is priced at Rs 9,999 in India, while the Google Home Mini is priced at Rs 4,499.

So what exactly do the Google Home and Home Mini speaker offer for the Indian consumer? What services will they support and what use cases do they provide? Indianexpress.com spoke to Rishi Chandra, Vice President of Product Management and General Manager of Home Products, Google at the sidelines of the launch event, and here’s what we learnt. Below is an edited excerpt of the interaction.

What are the expectations from Google Home

According to Chandra, Google Home is more than just a product for smart homes. “India has been a fantastic market for us. Android has been very well received. The way we are looking at this is that we are bringing everything about what’s great with Google in a voice-activated way,” he explains. Google’s VP of Product Management says India has seen tremendous growth in terms of voice interaction and Google Home is a natural extension of the same.

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Also read: Google Home first impressions: The early days of smart

“It (Google Home) is an easier access for voice-activated things that Google can deliver,” he points out. With Google Home, the company says the product is designed to work as a smart home device, provide entertainment, and will resonate well with all types of use cases.

Google, Google Home, Google Home speaker, Google Home price in India, Google Home sale, Google Home mini, Google Home speaker features, Google Home Mini price in India Google Home and Home Mini will support English first in India. Hindi support will be added later on.

Google Home: Will it support Hindi, other Indian languages?

“We will continue to evaluate that (on support for other languages). Google has obviously made a lot of commitment to India in terms of languages support. The Assistant is a broader set of functionality, so it takes a little of bit time in bringing all the functionality that we have for the Google Home in different languages,” explains Chandra. However, Google Home will support Hindi by the end of the year.

Read more: Google Home and Home Mini India launch highlights: Price, Flipkart sale and everything else to know

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Asked about the delay, since Google Assistant on phones already support Hindi, Chandra explains that with Home, the interaction paradigm is a little different. “First step is to look at English, and we will see what sort of queries people are asking, and then expand to other languages,” he said.

Which OTT services are supported by Google Home?

When it comes to streaming services, Google Home in India is compatible with Gaana, Saavn, Netflix, YouTube and Google Play Music. What this means is that you can use Google Home to control these services on your Android TV or via Chromecast on your regular television set. Chandra said Google is definitely looking at other content providers too.

Google, Google Home, Google Home speaker, Google Home price in India, Google Home sale, Google Home mini, Google Home speaker features, Google Home Mini price in India Google Home is compatible with Gaana, Saavn, Netflix, YouTube and Google Play Music in India. In this photo, Rishi Chandra on stage at the launch of Google Home speakers. The devices are Flipkart exclusive in India.

“We have started with a base set of providers for content streaming and will kept adding more and more over time. You will definitely see more investment from us there. As we add voice-activated services, more and more content partners will come on board, ” he explained.

Will streaming music via Google Home be ad-free?

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Yes, Google Home will have some services offered ad-free as part of the launch scheme. Chandra explains that Google Play Music will be free for the first six months. Meanwhile, Gaana will be ad-free for six months, while Saavn will have limited commercials on the product.

Google Home will support Android TV for Cast, along with support for Chromecast. However, Google is still working on other television UIs. “We are also investing to make sure Android TV can be first class in not just playing content, but in turning on TV, input searching etc. We also have this “Works with Google Assistant” program, which allows Google Home to work with all types of devices like plugs, thermostats, smart lighting, etc as well,” explains Chandra. “YouTube and Netflix will also work on Casting via Google Home,” he adds.

Google Home: What smart home devices are supported in India?

Chandra explains that Google Home works with over 1,500 home automation devices across 200 brands. “However, we know not all brands are available in India. We are working with local manufacturers in India. These are very early days for these smart devices. We have open APIs to allow any manufacturer to work with our devices, and we plan to expand device partners,” he says. The Google VP sees the space evolving very quickly over the next couple of years.

He also explains that with Google Home, there is a very compelling use case for smart home devices and it is very easy. “We found that voice unlocks all those use cases in a very easy way. You don’t have to unlock the phone anymore to control these smart home devices,” he adds. With voice activated commands, it becomes easier for users to manage.

Google, Google Home, Google Home speaker, Google Home price in India, Google Home sale, Google Home mini, Google Home speaker features, Google Home Mini price in India Google Home will support Android TV for Cast along with support for Chromecast.

Google Home: How many voices can it recognise?

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One single Google Home can work with six different voices. It can also recognise a child’s voice as well.

Can one use Google Translate on Google Home?

Google Translate will be inbuilt into the product. However, as Chandra points out the ‘hot word’ command still needs to be in English. Hindi support will be rolled out later this year.

What about privacy on the Google Home speaker?

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According to Chandra, the product has been designed keeping privacy in mind. “The key thing for us, we have had to deal with this challenge for many many years. This is not a new problem for us (Google). We have had to protect search query data. Our core principles have never changed. We want to be transparent about everything that we are doing. We want to be consistent and give users control,” he says.

With Google Home speaker, any information shared will only take place when the lights turn on, explains Chandra. Unless a user says “Ok Google” which is the hot word, the Google Home speaker will not start recording. He also explains that the ‘My Activity’ page on Google have all the information which has been shared with Google Home. “Just next to your Google search queries, it (this data) will there. One single place where you can see all this data displayed. My Activity page has all the controls. Users can delete the information, etc,” explains Chandra.

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So what happens when a user deletes voice information from Google Home? The processes remains the same as say when a user delete email from their Gmail. “First 24 hours, the content or data is removed from all our core front-end systems. We do have backups, etc and that can take a bit longer to be removed. But it is not accessible to anyone inside or outside of Google. Even when you delete an email it goes through the exact same thing,” explains Chandra.

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First published on: 10-04-2018 at 06:26:40 pm

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