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Smart Home

Google Home voice control now talks to GE appliances

The Google Home speaker and its voice Assistant now play nice with GE smart appliances.

Google Home gains voice control over GE connected appliances.

GE

Google Home's widening circle of voice control now covers GE smart appliances. Thanks to a new partnership announced Wednesday between GE and the search giant, owners of the connected speaker system can verbally ask Google's virtual assistant to preheat their ovens, check if the dishes are clean or whether the laundry is done.

This domestic wizardry is made possible in part by GE's Geneva software. Geneva acts as an intermediary between Google Assistant and the built-in connected capabilities already onboard select GE refrigerators, ovens and dishwashers. Last fall Geneva forged a similar link with Alexa, Amazon's own popular AI concierge.

You enable both voice control methods in much the same way. Instead of using the Geneva Alexa skill, you first hunt down the Geneva Home Assistant app within the Google Home mobile application. There you'll be able to connect the Assistant with your GE Appliances Wi-Fi Connect account -- if you have one.

Once properly acquainted, you can issue orders to your Google Home such as, "OK Google, ask Geneva Home if the dishes are clean," or, "OK Google, ask Geneva Home to preheat the oven to 350 degrees." The Assistant will then command the appliance in question to do your bidding. For safety's sake, GE also requires you to press a physical "remote enable" button on its ovens to activate voice controls of any kind.

The news comes as Google prepares its annual developer conference, I/O, starting Wednesday. Expect a string of announcements related to the smart home -- already this morning Whirlpool has announced Google Home support for more than 20 of its large appliances.

I certainly welcome GE's new integration with the growing Google smart home universe. Right off the bat though, it is annoying to have to utter an extra word for GE and Google to collaborate compared with Alexa ("Geneva Home" instead of just "Geneva"). It's already clunky enough to ask Google to talk to something else which will then ultimately do another thing.

I'm also wary of voice control over appliances given to anyone in my house. Sure, Google Home now recognizes multiple users and matches them against individual accounts. It's a trick Alexa can't yet perform. Still, this hasn't stopped my 6-year-old twins wreaking daily havoc with my personal Spotify stream. It could be time to cough up the extra cash for a family plan.

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