Google Home launches in UK

Google Home will officially launch in the UK on April 6 for a price of £129, the search giant has confirmed.

It will be available from Argos, Currys PC World, John Lewis and Maplin.

The hands-free smart speaker is powered by Google Assistant and can be activated by using the voice command “OK Google”.

Users will be able to ask questions, play music, and control smartphone devices using the small speaker. Google Home also uses Google’s search technology to find answers from the internet before they are read out to the questioner.

To customise its service for the UK, Google has teamed up with the BBC, The Guardian, The Financial Times, The Sun, The Telegraph, Huffington Post, Sky News, and Sky Sports to provide news updates based on the user’s location.

Up until this point, Amazon’s Echo and Echo Dot have dominated the UK smart-speaker market, with it now becoming more saturated.

It is believed that the delay in bringing Google Home to the UK market was due to Google wanting to train the AI to recognise UK voices, make modifications using feedback received from US consumers and to increase the number of UK launch-day partners.

Suveer Kothari, director of product partnership and planning at Google Home, told Wired it was a “huge challenge” to make sure the device could understand different accents.

“We switched the accent to be English,” Mr Kothari said. “We did a lot of work on voice recognition and making sure it’s really able to understand what we’re saying.”

Apple’s version is thought to be a year from completion.

The biggest difference between Amazon Echo and Google Home is said to be Home’s ability to use context. Users are able to repeat questions to the device and it understands what was said in the first question, allowing for more natural commands, such as “give me two more minutes” when snoozing an alarm, as opposed to giving the command “set alarm” with the Echo.

The smart speaker includes a multi-room feature, which allows users to control other smart-home devices, such as Google’s Chromecast Audio or Chromecast-enabled speakers, to play music in different rooms of the home.

It is also compatible with other smart-home brands Nest, Philips or Samsung SmartThings.

The company said it would be adding more compatibility with other popular apps and services over time.

Google wi-fi is also being introduced to the UK, which is a collection of small routers that can be placed around the home, that Google claims will improve the wireless signal.