Google is winning the battle to control Neato's robot vacs.
There's a war for control of everything in the smart home and what better pawn to fight over than the friendly little robot vacuum?
Robot vacuum maker Neato strives not to pick sides. Having already joined forces with Amazon's Alexa voice assistant, Neato has this morning announced its robot vacuums now also obeys spoken commands given to Google Home speakers and Google Assistant software.
Neato robot owners can issue basic orders including start, pause, stop and resume phrases. For instance you can say, "OK Google, ask Neato Robot to start cleaning" or "OK Google, ask Neato Robot to clean my house".
Like Neato's similar Alexa voice assistant skill, you do have to choose your words carefully. This Neato and Google smart home integration suffers from the stilted language and awkward phrasing that's often common to other Alexa device integrations.
If you say the phrase, "OK Google, tell Neato Robot to stop," Google will only shut down the Google Assistant software agent named "Neato Robot" but won't halt the physical robot that's cleaning your floor. To stop the robot itself, make sure you say, "OK Google, tell Neato Robot to stop cleaning."
Still, Google does offer more ways to control Neato robots compared with the matching Amazon Alexa skill. Want to set Neato on a vacuuming schedule? No problem. Just say, "OK Google, ask Neato Robot to set schedule every Wednesday at 11 a.m." You can swap in the specific day and time you'd like or choose "every weekday" or "weekend".
That's way more verbal options than Alexa offers for instructing Neato robots. Those are limited to clean, pause, resume and stop commands. The same limitations are apparently true with Roomba vacuums driven by Alexa, a skill expected to be available this spring. You can even use your voice to order your Neato back to its dock or tell the machine to emit loud beeps if you've lost it somewhere in the house.
Hopefully enabling this Google integration won't be too much trouble. The functionality is technically a Google Action, which usually doesn't require manual installation like Alexa skills do.
Ideally all you'll have to do is say, "OK Google, let me talk to [insert service name here]." In this case that's "Neato robot" -- then Google takes care of the rest. According to Neato, this action is available immediately on all three models of its current Botvac Connected line, which includes the D3, D5 and flagship Botvac Connected.
Google's voice control skills seem pretty sweet. Of course even the best voice command AI can't stop a robot vacuum from getting stuck on a shag rug.