Google Home Reviews: Handsome Design Not Enough to Outweigh 'Rough Around the Edges' Feel

Reviews for Google's new smart home speaker system, Google Home, have released this morning, bringing a collection of opinions about the newest entry in the wireless Bluetooth speaker category, which Apple is rumored to be entering in the future. Google originally introduced Google Home at its I/O Conference in May, and then officially announced it alongside the Pixel Phone at an event in October.

The first batch of reviews for Google Home appear to mostly align with a single opinion: the speaker is an impressive addition to the home, but in some ways it's less reliable, and its Google Assistant-powered AI doesn't beat Amazon's Alexa in most instances. As is usual with a new product category gaining entries from various companies, the decision rests solely on personal preference of which company each user believes will deliver the best experience, and iterate most consistently down the line.

google-home-reviews-1

Images via Engadget

That's the way that Wired began its review for Google Home, which it says can sometimes feel "like sci-fi magic," and other times is simply unreliable. The sci-fi magic comes in with Google Assistant, which Wired says provides smart search results for random inquiries (“What’s the difference between acetaminophen and ibuprofen?”), but other times was "shockingly stupid," fumbling movie release date trivia and other questions.

Ultimately, Wired found that Google Home was "a lot simpler" and less intuitive than the futuristic advertising Google is generating for the device. The site said that Google Home has great potential, particularly in upcoming features like voice-recognized user profiles, deeper connections with Pixel Phone, and the introduction of more third-party support. For now, it'll depend on user preference for each company -- Google or Amazon -- since the speakers align so closely in most areas.

Someday, assuming Google keeps caring about Home, I suspect the device will be more like the ad. It’ll be smart and integrated enough to know that your flight is delayed and change your dinner reservation, to turn on all the lights in your house, to tell you how to get to work, to teach your kids about the world, and all the rest. Right now, it’s simpler than that. Like, a lot simpler.

Both devices are excellent, both have bright futures, both are increasingly essential parts of your household. I bought a Home because I like the design, and I like the sound quality. If you buy an Echo because you love your Sonos and don’t trust Google with your data, you’ll be perfectly happy as well.

The Verge continued this "rough around the edges" sentiment in its review, liking the way that Google Home could carry on a casual conversation, asking about Abraham Lincoln, in a way that Echo could not. But the device's Google Assistant felt like it's "still in its very early days," with inconsistent responses from a dual-speaker set-up, "fuzzy" speaker quality, and limited single account support. The site has "no doubt it will improve," but early adopters should be aware of the bumpy road ahead.

google-home-reviews-2
Google Home also "looks a lot better than the Echo," The Verge believed, with a softer white design that meshes better with most home decor than Amazon Echo's tall black cylinder. The interchangeable bottom plates (for $20 extra each) also add to a better overall design that could be a sole selling point for some users who prefer to look at Google Home daily over Echo.

To paraphrase Google’s own CEO, Sundar Pichai, artificial intelligence is still in its very early days. And, in my opinion, Google Home shows that. I have no doubt it will improve. But I was surprised that Google Home arrived so rough around the edges, especially when it had an existing competitive product to learn from, and an unmatched wealth of data to draw upon.

Like a dominating batter in a tight World Series game, you kind of expect Google to hit a game-winning homer. But it merely hit a double, and the contest is still very much on.

One of the biggest categories that Google Home lags behind in out of the gate, according to Engadget, is third-party support. At launch, it can control devices from Nest, Hue, IFTTT, and SmartThings, but Amazon's list stretches far beyond that, now including various "skills" that developers can update on Echo with new commands on a weekly basis. On the other hand, for users who are baked into the Google ecosystem, Engadget said "this might indeed be the home assistant for you."

Right now, however, it's little more than a toy. It's fun and occasionally very convenient to ask it questions and have it perform simple tasks, but it's hardly an essential part of my life. But Google Home is worth keeping an eye on -- it will almost certainly be more capable in three months (or even three weeks) than it is now.

If you're someone who loves tapping into Google's mighty store of knowledge, don't sleep on Google Home. Just as the Echo got smarter and more valuable over time, I expect the same will happen here. And if you've already bought into Google's ecosystem, this might indeed be the home assistant for you.

Wired's advice appears to represent the back-and-forth nature of most Google Home reviews: it's a decent addition into a category that is only increasing in relevance and importance. "There’s only one mistake you can make, really," the site summed up at the end of its review. "Not letting a smart speaker into your home at all. These things are great, and they’re only getting better."

For more reviews and opinions on Google Home, check out the coverage from these sites:

- TechnoBuffalo
- Business Insider
- CNN
- USA Today
- Mashable
- Time
- TechCrunch

Top Rated Comments

lostczech Avatar
76 months ago
"looks a lot better than the Echo,"

I'm sorry, but it looks like a cheap dollar store air freshener
Score: 50 Votes (Like | Disagree)
skinned66 Avatar
76 months ago
Handsome design? Sure, if you like the aesthetics of Renuzit I guess.
[doublepost=1478188649][/doublepost]
"looks a lot better than the Echo,"

I'm sorry, but it looks like a cheap dollar store air freshener
Glad someone agrees with me.
Score: 19 Votes (Like | Disagree)
macduke Avatar
76 months ago
That's the way that Wired ('https://www.wired.com/2016/11/review-google-home/') began its review for Google Home, which it says can sometimes feel "like sci-fi magic," and other times is simply unreliable.
I feel like this accurately sums up most technology nowadays. We're on a roller coaster of emotion, oscillating between elation and disappointment. Amazed at how far we've come, and yet restrained by what we can actually do with it.
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)
citysnaps Avatar
76 months ago
Like I'm going to have an open microphone in my house and hooked up to google 24/7. That's rich! Dream on...
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Derekuda Avatar
76 months ago
Like I'm going to have an open microphone in my house and hooked up to google 24/7. That's rich! Dream on...
Better yet, have one built into your phone that goes everywhere with you and call it Siri.... oh wait.
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
djcerla Avatar
76 months ago
About time for Walt Mossberg to update his "Dumb Siri" rant piece including Google's and Amazon dumb offerings.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Popular Stories

iPhone 14 Dummies 1 Feature

Everything Rumored for Apple's September Event: iPhone 14, Apple Watch Pro and More

Friday August 12, 2022 2:34 pm PDT by
There's just about a month to go until Apple holds its annual September event focusing on new iPhone and Apple Watch models. We thought we'd take a quick look at everything that's rumored for Apple's September event to give MacRumors readers a rundown on what to expect when the first fall event rolls around. iPhone 14 The iPhone 14 can probably be described more as an "iPhone 13S" because...
z fold 4 1

Hands-On With Samsung's Latest Foldable Smartphones, the Galaxy Z Fold and Z Flip

Friday August 12, 2022 12:46 pm PDT by
Samsung this week launched its fourth-generation foldable devices, the $1,000 Galaxy Z Flip and the $1,800 Galaxy Z Fold. Though there's no sign of a comparable Apple foldable device on the horizon, rumors suggest prototypes are in the works, so we thought we'd take a look at Samsung's newest smartphones to see what Apple needs to measure up to when a foldable iPhone does come out. Subscribe ...
iPhone 14 Pro Purple Rear Flat MacRumors Exclusive

iPhone 14 Pro: Analyst Believes Storage Will Continue to Start at 128GB Despite Rumored Price Increase

Friday August 12, 2022 7:04 am PDT by
It wouldn't be the month before an iPhone launch without a few back-and-forth rumors, with the latest debate concerning iPhone 14 Pro storage. iPhone 14 Pro render by Ian Zelbo While research firm TrendForce forecasted that iPhone 14 Pro models could start with an increased 256GB of storage, Haitong International analyst Jeff Pu today forecasted that the upcoming Pro models will continue to...
iPhone 14 Pro Purple Front and Back MacRumors Exclusive feature

iPhone 14 Is Just a Few Weeks Away: Three Tips to Prepare for the New iPhone

Wednesday August 10, 2022 4:08 am PDT by
The launch of the new iPhone 14 is just a few weeks away, meaning millions of iPhone customers will soon upgrade their existing iPhone or perhaps get an iPhone for the first time. Exclusive MacRumors iPhone 14 Pro renders by graphic designer Ian Zelbo Whether upgrading from an older model or this is your first iPhone, we've rounded up a few tips to help you prepare for the next flagship...
iPhone 14 Pro Lineup Feature Silver

Kuo: Apple to Increase Prices of iPhone 14 Pro Models

Wednesday August 10, 2022 8:22 am PDT by
Apple plans to increase the prices of iPhone 14 Pro models compared to iPhone 13 Pro models, according to analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. Kuo did not reveal exact pricing for the iPhone 14 Pro models. However, in a tweet today, he estimated that the average selling price of the iPhone 14 lineup as a whole will increase by about 15% compared to the iPhone 13 lineup. In the United States, the iPhone...
top stories 13aug2022

Top Stories: New Battery Percentage Icon in iOS 16, USB-C AirPods Rumor, and More

Saturday August 13, 2022 6:00 am PDT by
This week brought some shocking news for iOS 16 beta testers, with Apple bringing back the iPhone battery percentage to the status bar after a number of years. Other news and rumors this week included word that Apple has started recording portions of its media event planned for next month to introduce the iPhone 14 and Apple Watch Series 8, claims about iPhone 14 Pro pricing and Apple's...