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Smart Home

Google Home launches in Australia (and it speaks 'Strayan)

OK Google, please turn my house into a giant Google search engine... and organise my day while you're at it.

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Google Home is finding a new home in Australia.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

OK Google, Australia is ready for you to organise our lives.

We've been patiently waiting and now Google is delivering. Google Home, Google's voice-controlled smart speaker, has arrived in Australia, pipping Amazon to the post.

Google Home goes on sale on Thursday July 20 for AU$199 in The Google Store, JB Hi-Fi, Harvey Norman, Officeworks, The Good Guys, Telstra, Optus and Qantas Store. It also comes with a 6-month subscription to YouTube Red. 

The table-top speaker brings the all-knowing power of Google into your home, helping you organise your life, control your smart appliances and even run a quick Google search with just your voice.

OK, Google: Play "Sherlock" on Stan on my TV. 

OK, Google: How's the weather today?

OK, Google: Play Triple J on TuneIn.

You get the idea. Google Home is like a central hub that makes sure you're never bored while you're cooking dinner or never short of a factoid at the dinner party that follows. And because the speaker taps into the giant brain that is Google's search engine and machine learning smarts, information is just a command away and the speaker learns how to answer your questions better in the future.

Google is also promising features targeted at Australians:

  • Understanding and speaking in an Australian accent
  • Pulling news from Australian sources including ABC News, The Australian, Fox Sports and Sky News
  • Playing radio, including Triple J, and podcasts through TuneIn
  • Playing video from Stan, Netflix and YouTube through Chromecast
  • Offering Aussie easter eggs (e.g. recognising phrases such as "Are you going to Bonny Doon?") 

We're going to spend a bit of time playing around with these local features, but to learn about what Google Home can do when it's fully set up, check out our full Google Home review and our full list of Google Home commands.

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Google Wifi helps strengthen your broadband connection to support IoT devices.

Josh Miller/CNET

To tie in with the launch of Google Home, the company has also launched Google Wifi -- a tabletop puck that creates a mesh network in your home to extend Wi-Fi to hard-to-reach places (particularly important as you start to install more IoT devices that suck up bandwidth). Using one or more of these devices around your house, Google says each point works together to direct data on the best path around your house. 

Google Wifi goes on sale on July 20 from The Google Store, JB Hi-Fi, Harvey Norman, The Good Guys, and Officeworks. A single pack will sell for AU$199 while a three-pack will cost AU$499. 

While Australia is a little late to the party (Google Home launched in the US in last November), the product has had a number of updates since first coming to market. That includes things like multi-user voice recognition, more smart home support and access to more than 5 million recipes, so it's a good time for us to be getting our hands on the gadget.

Google is by no means the first to try and update Aussie homes. Belkin's WeMo range has given Australians a way to plug smart home capabilities into their power points for some time now. Telstra also launched its Smart Home hub at the end of last year (though we're still yet to see much noise from Telstra on this front).

But like Nest, another major smart home brand that has found success in the US with its learning thermostat and which launched in Australia last week, the arrival of Google should really kickstart things on the local smarthome front.

And that's before Amazon arrives in Australia this year. Amazon has long been the big name in smart home integration in the US thanks to the Amazon Echo. The smart speaker lets you control a house full of connected devices (think smart doorbells, lights, sound systems and even window blinds) with your voice. If Google Home is the all-knowing factoid machine and media device, then think of the Echo as the hub for your Internet of Things home. 

The issue with any smart hub (whether Google Home, Amazon Echo or even the Telstra Smart Home) is that you need those integrations with other smart products to really get the most out of your device. 

Without big companies like Google and Amazon, individual manufacturers haven't really had a smart home ecosystem to centre their products on (meaning we've got plenty of products like smart switches and connected washing machines, but they're all controlled by different manufacturer apps).

But with the arrival of Google Home (and hopefully Amazon Echo in the not-too-distant future), Australia is finally starting to join the smart home race. 

About bloody time.

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