The Amazon Echo was my pacifier as I waited for Google’s entry into the home assistant space.
Setting my Google Play Music library aside, I suffered through using Amazon’s attempt at a music service devoid of most of my own library. I connected my Google Calendar to Alexa and it offered a glimpse into my future relationship with Google’s assistant.
Finally, in early November, I could get my hands on a new Google Home. I had pre-ordered from Google and then discovered I could pick one up at my local Best Buy. The very morning it hit the shelves, I immediately bought one.
I brought it home, set it up in the family room and eagerly asked – “OK Google, play my morning hits playlist.” Without skipping a beat, she announced the list and the room filled with my music. The key point here – it was music from MY library.
I didn’t cancel that Google pre-order. It was on its way. I figured I could listen to music in my bedroom as well. But – what about the other rooms in my house? What about the smart lights, smart switches, clever irrigation controller, and intelligent thermostat scattered throughout? I need a Google Home in every room to live the dream of a voice controlled home!
I bought four more.
My home is outfitted with six Google Home devices. There’s one in every room. I can control my smart home with my voice from anywhere I stand. I can spread music into any room. I can turn on, dim, and turn off lights in various rooms with just my voice. It’s as close as I can get to living on the Enterprise.
Google's vision of the future with Google Home. Well, one Home.
That’s the dream. Unfortunately, it isn’t a reality (yet).
Google has failed at a key feature that it so proudly spoke of that morning in May. The nice lady living inside each Home is often unable to tell if you are talking to her or her sister in the neighboring room. It can result in some frustrating, sometimes comical, exchanges.
It is amazing how well the little air freshener shaped unit can hear you from several rooms away. With multiple Homes, you’ll find yourself making requests and getting responses from two of them. It usually involves one of them, not necessarily the one closest to you, executing the request and the other apologizing to you that it can’t.
From my bedroom in the morning, I might ask how long it will take to get to work and hear the detailed response in the distance from the kitchen. There will be times when the Home in front of me fulfills my request and another will rattle off from down the hall.
You also have the ghosts. I never thought my home might be haunted - until now. There will be times when I turn off the TV, hang up on a call, or just walk out of the bathroom and hear something in another room. I’ll find a Google Home playing music or a podcast that I don’t listen to in a randomly selected room. Who asked to listen to opera at low volume in the guest room? Ghosts.
There isn’t a constant circus of home assistants chiming in from all over the house. The closest Home does respond properly more than half of the time. However, I have found myself at times leaning over and almost whispering to a Google Home when I want to be sure the others don’t hear.
There is talk of multiuser support coming soon, but it remains to be seen if this will improve its ability to identify which Home I am talking to.
For now, I must look like a fool. I am whispering to an air freshener because I don’t want the others to hear. Creepy? Maybe.