Google Home 2… the smart speaker that’s yet to be announced, but is certainly on the horizon. Google have rapidly expanded its range of smart home products from its initial Google Home offering, with both the cost-effective alternative Google Home Mini and more audio-focused Google Home Max.
In some ways Google have been playing catch up with its main smart home competitor, Amazon, who dominate with a fleet of Echo, Echo Plus, Echo Dot, and Echo Spot devices available for sale amid a growing market of Alexa-compatible devices.
With a new Google Home Hub set to ape the screen-based Echo Show, and continual updates aiming to bridge the gap between the respective company’s offerings, the time is ripe for a meaningful hardware upgrade to the now two-year-old Google Home hardware.
It’s unclear whether we’d see a whole new model branded as the Google Home 2, or (more likely) just a replacement model that continued to go under the Google Home banner.
We expect we may hear more at Google’s annual launch event, which this year is taking place on October 9. For now, we’ve run through everything we want to see from an updated Google Home speaker.
We’ve been scratching our heads for the best part of two years over this in particular – why can’t the Google Home integrate with Gmail, Google Docs, and the wider ecosystem of Google services so many of us are dependent on?
Google Assistant is already ‘smarter’ than a lot of its counterparts, largely thanks to the wealth of data and search engine results Google can dredge up for it. Having a Google Home that could read from your Gmail inbox and reply to your messages, or dictate text straight to your Google Sheets, would really start opening up the voice assistant’s untapped potential and help it pull ahead.
Sure, that’s more of a software than a hardware issue, but a new product launch would also be the perfect time to offer a wider array of smart capabilities.
One thing the Google Home already does pretty well is its casting function, which allows you to summon music or video content through the speaker and throw it to your TV’s Chromecast or even your smartphone. If the voice commands could be simplified and allow for more direct voice control of Netflix-style streaming services through Google Home, it would make it much more of a crucial addition to the home.
A real AUX port
The audio drivers in the Google Home aren’t anything to shout about, and more sound-focused buyers should probably be angling for the Google Home Max, anyway. But it’s a shame such a vast range of artists are being funneled through inferior speakers.
Google Assistant has managed to cobble together the biggest music library of any smart assistant, thanks to Google Play Music as well as the Google-owned Youtube Music – if you sign up for the service, at least. The current model can already connect to external amps and speakers over Bluetooth – finally – but getting a physical AUX port would do a lot to win over listeners concerned about losing audio quality over the air.
Design that doesn't put us to sleep
For all the charms of Google’s Home Mini and Home Max, both versions of the smart speaker lack the distinctive shaping of the original product, ditching its candle-holder silhouette and sloping touch-capacitive display – leaning towards you instead of making you crane over it – for their vaguer pillow-shaped outlines.
We’re not against changing up the formula – being able to customize more than the color of the bottom half would actually be a good start. But the style factor is one area Google still has the lead over Amazon, and we’d be sad to see an update to the main Google Home opt for the more generic design of its spin-off devices.
Isn’t this what we always want? The Google Home is still retailing at £129 / $129 / AU$199, so we imagine the new model would seem a good deal by bringing in upgraded features for the same price. Being able to invest in the older hardware at a reduced price or, better yet, getting an enhanced model that matched more closely to the Amazon Echo’s £89 / $99 / AU$119, would do a lot to lower the price barrier for new adopters.