Google Home set for April release in UK

Google will be introducing the Google Home to the UK, with the device set to battle Amazon’s Echo for superiority.

The smart speaker is able to play music, answer questions and control Internet of Things devices and will be available for £129, £20 less than the Echo. The device is set for launch on 6 April.

The Home was launched by Google in November, in the US, with it designed to run alongside the Pixel phone and the introduction of Google Assistant AI. Google Assistant is a voice-controlled assistant available on a number of devices, from phones to TVs.

Since its initial launch, Google Assistant has slowly become integrated onto other Android devices, including smartwatches. It is also fully compatible with Google Allo, which is one of the company’s many chat apps. However, the Google Home is the only smart speaker to feature the AI.

Alexa, the assistant built into Amazon’s Echo, is available to any third party that wants to sign up to use it; this means Alexa features on a number of other speakers, cars and even some washing machines.

The scene seems to be set for a battle similar to that seen between Playstation and Xbox, but Amazon has an advantage due to its earlier release, according to Edison Investment Research’s Richard Windsor, with 10m Echoes shipped compared to less than 1m Google Home devices.

Even so, Windsor said: “The Google Home experience is so superior to Alexa that we still see a risk of Amazon losing this race.” In response, Amazon has been reaching out to third-party developers, encouraging the creation of apps which work with Alexa but not Google Assistant.

Windsor said: “The result is that very few of the smart home device developers are making sure that their devices work with Google Home, giving many users more reason go with Amazon’s Echo devices rather than Google.

“Amazon is also very fortunate that the market’s view of Alexa is so positive, as a side by side test of the Amazon Echo against Google Home shows how inferior Amazon is compared to Google,” he said.

Windsor added: “This is why it is still Google’s battle to lose, but Amazon is clearly doing everything that it can to ensure that it is Alexa rather than Google that dominates the potentially extremely lucrative market for intelligent home automation.”

The US version recently caused some controversy, as it began playing information about the new Beauty and the Beast movie without first being prompted to do so.

Google has apologised and denied that it was an advertisement, saying it was experimenting with “new ways to surface unique content”.