google home Photo: Google

If you tuned into last week’s Made by Google event — or have been on the internet since then — you’ve probably heard about Pixel, Google’s answer to the iPhone. What you may have missed is the news that Google Home is now on sale for $130. We don’t blame you for the oversight, but we do think you should get caught up, and fast.

Google describes Google Home as a voice-activated speaker that’s powered by Google Assistant, the company’s new AI platform. What does that mean in layman’s terms? Basically Google Home will be able to answer your burning questions, play your music and manage your schedule. It’ll also be able to sync up with your other smart devices — think Chromecast and Nest — so you’ll be able to adjust your home’s temperature or lighting with your voice.

Not impressed? Much of Google Home’s appeal seems to lie in the details. For example, it can tell the difference between a human voice and background noise, meaning that it can hear you even when you’re blasting music. Google Home can also determine context — if you ask a question about a song you’re currently playing, it will understand that you’re talking about that song. Pretty neat!

Video: Google/YouTube

Of course, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention that, like Pixel, Google Home already has a high-profile competitor: Amazon Echo. And at the moment, the jury seems to be out on which system will prevail. While some experts are convinced Google Home will give its rival “a run for its money,” others are less sure. For instance, one potential drawback to Google Home is that you can’t use it to shop … at least not yet — according to Google, that feature is in the works.

Some have also raised concerns about privacy, with the main issue being that because Google Home is always on — the better to attend to your needs — it’s also always “listening.” Google has countered that the device only tunes in after users say the phrase “okay Google,” but at least one analyst believes you should avoid Google Home if you want a “high degree of privacy.”

Personally, we can’t wait to see what Google Home may mean for the homes of the future. And fortunately, it looks like we won’t have to wait long to find out — Google Home units will be shipping out next month.

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