As, that the search giant will also unveil a smaller, more affordable version of its smart speaker, dubbed . Google could also debut a possible and maybe even a .
While I like the idea of Google expanding its smart speaker lineup, I want to see Google announce a smart home product that's not just another version of an Amazon Echo device. Google Home was obviously inspired by the similar, and the Google Home Mini should replicate the . A Home with a screen would line up with the , and a more powerful premium version of the Home could remind customers of the as well as .
Google has done an admirable job of developing its current Home speaker. Even though the Echo is two years older, Amazon's shadow, Google needs to stop chasing Amazon and surprise us with a unique device of its own.. That said, to truly bring the Home out of
The thrill of the chase
Last week,, including the Echo Plus and a . Even as Google Home has largely caught up with the Echo in terms of features, Amazon leads in device versatility, especially after its announcements last week.
While it's Alexa, Amazon's digital assistant. For example, the Echo Show lets you use Alexa to make video calls, and the turns Alexa into a fashion adviser., the company deserves credit for continuing to find new, useful ways to package
But Google has taken steps to change that,. Still, we're just now seeing , and so far, they're only speakers and phones. It's perfectly reasonable for creative new devices to take time to surface with only a few months for development, but in the meantime Amazon keeps adding devices to its lead.
In terms of sales, Echo devices are way ahead of the Google lineup. Amazon accounts for 70 percent of smart speaker sales, with Google a distant second, according to eMarketer. The $50 Echo Dot (£50, unavailable in Australia) is Amazon's bestseller. The Dot packs the full power of Alexa into a small, affordable package. Plus, it plugs into your house's stereo system so you can use Alexa to play music on your speaker of choice.
We loved the Dot when we reviewed it, and last spring, I argued that-- a smaller, more affordable Google Home that mainstream customers can scoop up without too much consideration. It certainly looks like Google will deliver that on Wednesday with the Google Home Mini.
If the Mini does exist, and if it's good, it'll be an important part of Google's smart home lineup and could help the search giant catch up to Amazon in smart speaker sales. So the Mini is a necessary move by Google, but it's still the move of a company playing catchup.
Google could keep imitating Amazon's successful products, but if it wants to capture more than just a slice of the other 30 percent of the market, Google needs to forge a new trail for its Assistant. Fortunately for Google, there are still a few fertile areas remaining where Google can beat Amazon to the punch.
What else is there?
At the top of my wish list for a surprise device would be a Google router with the Google Assistant built in. Google already has a router called, which uses three identical units that you can spread out to create a Wi-Fi "mesh" signal throughout your home.
The Echo took a piece of familiar hardware -- a speaker -- and made it feel fresh by adding Alexa and microphones so it would respond to voice commands. Google could do the same thing with a device most of us need to have anyway.
A microphone-equipped, multiunit Google Wifi package would distribute Google Assistant access all around your home. Better yet, a Google Home version of Google Wifi would add some excitement to an ordinary but necessary device, not unlike whatdid for the thermostat.
A television that doubled as a Google Home would also break new ground, and like the router, it could bring the Assistant into your life via a consumer electronic device you might plan to purchase regardless.
Amazon doesn't have an Alexa-enabled router, but it does technically have an Alexa-enabled TV:. But the Element isn't voice-activated itself (neither are the upcoming model from or the comparable models from and ). You can pair the Element with any Echo device to control it with your voice, or you can press a button on the TV's remote to give a command.
As it stands,later this year. Like Amazon, Google has streaming boxes running the company's software. A few companies such as Sony also make . Like the Element TV with Alexa, the Sony TVs still require you to push a button on your remote to talk to the TV.
The next step seems simple: add a few microphones to one of those Sony TVs and you'll have a TV version of the Google Home. In practice, adding microphones to a TV in a spot where you're not reducing screen size and they can still hear you over the sound of the television could be difficult. One way around this could be building an always listening microphone into the TV's remote, but that would certainly put strain on the remote's battery.
So a Google Home TV might not be easy to make, but it would be cool, useful and unique.
Waiting for Google
Google has a lot of the pieces already in place to build the Assistant into something new and to step out of Amazon's shadow. Google makes routers and has TVs with the company's software built in. Making one of those double as a Google Home would provide useful functionality and a dose of coolness to tech we already use.
The devices Google is likely to unveil on Wednesday will continue to replicate the Echo line.is a good thing for consumers, as the companies push each other to add more features and functionality. For the sake of that competition, I hope Google surprises us with a broader variety of Assistant-equipped devices, and soon.
: Every fact, rumor and leak we've seen about the new phone so far.
'Alexa, be more human': Inside Amazon's effort to make its voice assistant smarter, chattier and more like you.