BEHOLD: Google’s Amazon Echo competitor

Google just announced Google Home, a smart home appliance that consumers can speak to and do things with, like order food, play music, and get weather and traffic updates.

The sleek, speaker-shaped device is Google’s highly anticipated answer to Amazon’s increasingly popular Echo product.

Google didn’t announce a price for the device, which is set to launch later this year. The Amazon Echo costs $179.99.

Onstage at the Google I/O conference, Google CEO Sundar Pichai credited Amazon with building excitement for the idea of a home gadget that can answer your questions.

Here’s our first look at Google Home:

Google Home
Google Home. YouTube

Home is a stand-alone hardware product, but it’s based on another new Google service that Google announced on Wednesday: Google Assistant, a voice-based digital assistant that’s similar to Apple’s Siri, or the Alexa virtual assistant at the heart of the Amazon Echo gadget.

Google wants to put its new Assistant service across a variety of new products. But one of the most high-profile incarnations of the virtual assistant will be in the Home gadget. Home will be able to play music as a Wi-Fi speaker as well as answer your questions based on Google Search.

The company promised at Google I/O that it had put a lot of thought into the hardware. The company said users would be able to customise that baseplate to match their home’s colour scheme and decor.

Home will also integrate with the smash-hit Google Chromecast and other Google Cast-compatible devices, so you can control video and other speakers with your voice. It will integrate with Nest smart thermostats and other connected gadgets.

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