Monday, March 6, 2017

The weather in Sloo

Finally Google have announced a launch date of June for their Google Home assistant in the UK, and having had one since Christmas I’m looking forward to the additional functionality that will hopefully come with it.

As my first digital assistant, I’ve been really impressed with it as a device – although it does have its quirks and more integration with data Google already has access to will make it much more useful and integral to my life.

There are staples that everyone will try when they get a new assistant, such as asking it to tell me a joke (they’re generally so cringeworthy that I’m not sure even my Dad would approve of some of them) or to sing me a song:

The audio is actually really good for such a relatively compact device, and when working from home I’ve frequently found myself listening to Spotify just using the Google Home speaker rather than casting to my Chromecast so I can use the sound bar – which it’s actually really simple to do by the way:

When you consider that this action has included telling Chromecast to switch the HDMI channel on my TV, load up Spotify, search for a particular playlist and playout the music I find this both really convenient and impressive for a few seconds worth of computing.

There are definitely weaknesses though, which if they are addressed with upcoming releases then it will be a much more useful assistant to me.

Firstly, as it was purchased in the US my phone needs to be set to US-English to be able to setup Google Home (or "Princess Google Home" as it’s called both in our house and in the app thanks to the voice), which messes up all kinds of other apps due to incorrect date formats for example.
Presumably as part of the UK launch they’ll also be tackling the weird pronunciation of some of the UK place names, such as the town in which my girlfriend works:

There’s definitely a need for multi user account access to make the most of the calendar and other functionality, and pleased that this seems to be coming. When I have one calendar for personal events, one for my work activities and my girlfriend also has one, the Google Calendar integration is so far useless to us (so we have disabled it).

In addition, the way that you need to address it as "OK Google" or "Hey Google" is odd, I think we’d just like to talk to ours as "Princess" :)

The really big need though is integration with the same public transport data that Google Maps has access to:

More natural language learning is needed yet, as we found when we tried to stop a playing of Narcos on Netflix this weekend:

However, it’s a cracking piece of tech and has brought out the (very poorly hidden) inner geek in me, as my favourite implementation is how I’ve managed to integrate it with my other Christmas present (Samsung SmartThings) for home control purposes:

Now I wonder what the weather IS like in Sloo today?

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