Google Home gets Proactive Assistance, Hands-Free Calling, and Visual Responses at Google IO 2017

Google Home has only been out for a little over six months, with Google having announced it last year at Google IO 2016 alongside its AI, Google Assistant. There are already 50 features or capabilities of Google Home, and the search engine giant took the stage at Google IO 2017 to unveil four new features it is bringing to Google Home over the next few months: Proactive Assistance, Hands-Free Calling, Entertainment, and Visual Responses.

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Proactive Assistance is a new feature for Google Home that will allow Google’s home device to utilize the capabilities of its in-built Google Assistant. For a person who needs to know traffic directions to head off on a camping trip, for example, Google Home will tell the person to plan ahead by leaving home early to get to the destination on time. The word “proactive” means to “get a jump-start” on something, and Google Home will do its best to help you plan ahead for the day by lighting up at the top of the speaker.

Hands-Free Calling will allow you to make phone calls with just your voice. In the same way that Google Assistant works on the Google Pixel to make phone calls for you, it will do the same with Google Home – over speakerphone. Hands-Free Calling allows even your least tech-savvy family members to make phone calls without dialing phone numbers and it comes with contact integration to give users a sense of whose calling. With the recently added multi-user support, Google Home will even sync multiple address books, one for each Google account, making it that more aware. Hands-Free calling on Google Home will can reach any U.S. or Canadian number for free with no additional setup or phone app.

Google Home already has entertainment capabilities that it can access such as Netflix, Google Photos, and YouTube, but in the coming months, Google Home will gain the ability to play TV shows and movies from providers such as HBO Now, Hulu, YouTube TV, Google Play Movies, CBS All Access, CW, HGTV, CRACKLE, and more on your connected TV. Music streaming from the cloud already exists with iHeartRadio, Pandora, Play Music, YouTube Music, and NPR One, but the coming months will see Spotify’s free music service, along with SoundCloud and Deezer, arrive on Google Home. For those songs and playlists you download onto your Android phone or iPhone and want to play, Google Home will gain Bluetooth capabilities so that you can play your audio through Google Home if you want to hear it through more powerful speakers than your smartphone.

Additionally, Google Home will provide more visual responses. Sure, Google Assistant on Google Home is great at giving you audio responses (“the movie starts at 4pm,” for example), but we can’t always retain information that we hear; there are times when a visual response, a picture or graph, would do more good than just an audible response. That’s why Google has decided to roll out visual responses to Google Home, allowing you to see your schedule for the day (or the week even) on your Android TV or Chromecast if you’re planning to record a movie the night you intend to be away from home. Visual responses will not only let you view your calendar, but they’ll let you see what’s playing on YouTube TV at the moment, suggest a movie, or select a show if you don’t like what you see. Users will also be able to turn their console off using a voice command to Google Home, how neat. All in all, Google Home via the Google Assistant will work with Android TV to bring up useful information when you need it most.

Google Home was only one of the devices discussed at Google IO 2017, but it’s clear from the new visual responses and the new typing feature for Google Assistant that Google wants to make assistant something that you’ll use all the time, not just to search for something online but also to order delivery, phone relatives and friends, and even find an ideal TV show or movie to keep you entertained on Friday night when you’re hanging out with friends or home alone. Google Home amplifies Google Assistant around the house so you can interact with it and have a personal concierge for all your work and leisure needs.

In the coming months, Google Home will make you feel more at home than ever before and be available to purchase in a bevy of new countries. Just added were the UK, Germany, Canada, Australia, Japan, and France. Others are coming to the list soon.

We’re covering Google I/O 2017 in its entirety, stay here at Droid Turf for coverage throughout the week.

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