The main Google Home news today was the launch of two new devices, the Google Home Mini and Google Home Max, but important new features were also announced. Google Home devices are becoming more family friendly with better ways for both kids and parents to interact with the devices.
For starters, Google is adding account settings so different permissions can be set for different users, giving parents more control with the Family Link service. New content for kids will also be available later this month, including games and story time. New partnerships with companies like Disney, Warner Brothers and Sports Illustrated Kids will expand uses for kids and make Google Home devices more approachable.
Broadcasts is another new feature that kind of turns Google Home into an intercom system. Simply say, “OK Google, broadcast” and follow that with a message. Google Assistant will then repeat the message to other Google Home devices in the house. If there’s a Google Home Mini in a kid’s room, for example, a parent can tell them that it’s time for dinner from the kitchen. It’s a handy addition that gives family members a hands-free walkie talkie. Google Home devices can also be assigned to specific rooms, allowing for easier synchronization.
Nest integration is new and links Google Home with Nest thermostats and security cameras. You can now adjust your thermostat by voice and see who’s at the door with a paired Nest camera, either on your connected TV or phone. The new features add simplicity and peace of mind to a connected smart home.
If you lose your phone, it can now be found by asking Google Home via integration with the Find My Phone feature on Android. Simply ask, “Where’s my phone” and the nearest paired Android device will ping.
Users have already been able to place calls with Google Home, but the service has been limited to Google Voice or Project Fi numbers. A new feature will now allow the use of your regular phone number to place calls, which is a feature Amazon’s Alexa has had for awhile. It’s good to see Google catching up on this one.
And finally, Google added “Voice II” to Google Assistant, allowing you to change its voice to male. I suppose it’s good to have options.