Published: Thu, April 12, 2018
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Google's 'Desi' Version Will Counter Amazon's Alexa In India

Google's 'Desi' Version Will Counter Amazon's Alexa In India

Artificially intelligent (AI) speakers running Amazon's virtual assistant Alexa now face competition from Google's Assistant- powered speakers, Home Mini and Home.

The Google Home is priced at Rs. 9,999, while the Mini variant of the speaker is priced in at Rs. 4,499.

The unit being demoed at NAB showed off mostly what Google Assistant on Android TV can do. However, back then, the speakers were available only through the company's invitation.

If you had your eyes set on Amazon Echo Plus, there is no offer for the larger speaker, as Amazon has no imminent threat from Google for its biggest speaker as the Home Plus was not announced in India alongside Home and Home Mini speakers on Tuesday. For those unaware, skills in Alexa are voice-powered apps that run on all Echo devices.

Meanwhile, Google Home Mini is 9.78cm wide and 4.2 cm tall and weighs in at 173 grams. Alexa and Amazon's Echo speakers made their India debut on October 31, 2017 with close to 11,000 skills and "in less than 60 days of the Alexa India skill store going live, Amazon has added more than 1,000 new skills to the store", the company claimed.

Google is yet to implement customised skills for Google Home. Although it is early days to predict the market for smart speakers, the lack of proper ecosystem and smart home automation, which has been picking up slowly and steadily in India does hint that it not the ideal time to leave your phone behind and rely on Smart home speakers. "The voice platform changes everything". At the launch, Google mentioned that only a handful of Google apps along with limited third-party apps like Netflix, Gaana and Saavn support Google. This simply means that every time you need to give a command, you have to say "Ok Google".

The top surface of the devices has LEDs that light up when Google "Home" recognises "OK Google". For instance, we have an Nvidia Shield TV console that allowed us to say, "Hey Google, play Premier League videos from YouTube on my TV". These offers, were purely introductory in nature and Amazon had subsequently discontinued them with all three products to be purchased for full price without any add-ons or freebies.

With the Voice Match feature, Google has given Home the ability to distinguish between six different voices. Once done, personal account details such as calendar details, for instance, will be voiced only after Home identifies your voice. The first and most obvious is the tie with third-party developers.

"We have ben working with many local partners to customise Google Home for India". We asked both Home and Alexa about the chances of rain on a particular evening, and while the former said it would rain, the latter said it would not-the former was correct.

However, the smart speakers have their fair share of drawbacks as well.

Following the launch of Google Home and Home Mini smart speakers, Amazon made a compelling argument for consumers to choose its Echo series smart speakers by slashing their prices in India for a limited period of time.

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