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Smart Home

Sony lets Google Home be your remote control

You can now control certain Sony TVs and speakers with a voice command to Google Home and Google Assistant

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

The Google Home's skills as an entertainer are starting to bloom. Thanks to a firmware update, you can now use the always-listening smart speaker to control certain Sony smart TVs. Say "OK, Google" or "Hey, Google" and you can stream Netflix or Youtube videos on your TV with your voice.

The firmware update also enables you to use your voice to control Sony's speakers with Chromecast built-in. That part of the announcement (made via a blog post by Sony) isn't quite as exciting, as I would have expected that functionality to be there already. When the Google Home launched, it could supposedly control all such speakers with Chromecast built-in.

The Google Home uses the Google Assistant to control your smart home, check your calendar and play music. It's similar to the Amazon Echo and the Google Assistant is much like Amazon's assistant Alexa. Since the Google Home was just released last month and the Echo's been around for years, the Home lags behind Amazon's counterpart in capabilities. In the head-to-head battle, the Home does have an advantage as an entertainer, because you can control Chromecast audio and video streamers with your voice.

You can also group multiple speakers together with the Home app, and now that Sony's speakers work with the Google Assistant, you'll be able to include them in your groups. With a single command, you'll be able to play a song on your "upstairs speakers" including your Sony sound system, the speaker built into the Google Home, and any speaker with a Chromecast audio streamer plugged into it.

Now, you'll also be able to stream YouTube and Netflix content to Sony TVs with Android TV built-in without having to buy a separate Chromecast video streamer. Sony doesn't specify if the integration adds the ability to turn your TV on or off by voice. You can't do that with voice commands to your Chromecast, and that functionality would allow Google Home to come much closer to actually replacing your remote. Neither Sony nor Google immediately responded to my request for comment on the matter.