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Google Gets Serious About Home Automation: Unveils Google Home, Actions on Google and Google Wifi (techcrunch.com) 91

At its hardware launch event earlier today, Google launched Google Home, a voice-activated speaker that aims to give Amazon's Echo a run for its money. The speaker is always-listening and uses Google's Assistant to deliver sports scores, weather information, commute times, and much more. Tech Crunch reports: So like the Echo, Google Home combines a wireless speaker with a set of microphones that listen for your voice commands. There is a mute button on the Home and four LEDs on top of the device so you can know when it's listening to you; otherwise, you won't find any other physical buttons on it. As for music, Google Home will feature built-in support for Google Play Music, Spotify, Pandora and others. You can set up a default music service, too, so you don't always have to tell Google that you want to play a song "on Spotify." Google also noted that Home's music search is powered by Google, so it can understand relatively complex queries. Music on Google Home will also support podcast listening and because it's a Cast device, you can stream music to it from any other Cast-enabled device. Home integrates with Google's Chromecasts and Cast-enabled TVs. For now, that mostly means watching YouTube videos, but Google says it will also support Netflix, too. Google Home will cost $129 (with a free six-month trial of YouTube Red) and go on sale on Google's online store today. It will ship on November 4. What's more is that developers will be able to integrate their third-party apps with Google Assistant via "Actions on Google." With Actions on Google, developers will be able to create two kinds of actions: Direct and Conversation. Direct is made for relatively simple requests like home automation, while Conversation is made for a back and forth interaction utilizing API.ai. Actions on Google will also allow third-party hardware to take advantage of Google Assistant. Those interested can sign-up for the service today. But Google didn't stop there. The company went on to reveal all-new, multi-point Wifi routers called Google Wifi. The Verge reports: The Wifi router can be purchased two ways: as a single unit or in a multipack, just like Eero. A single unit is $129, while the three-pack will cost $299. Google says Wifi will be available for preorder in the U.S. in November and will ship to customers in December. There was no mention of international availability. Google says it has developed a number of technologies to make the Wifi system work, including intelligent routing of traffic from your phone or device to the nearest Wifi unit in your home. It supports AC 1200 wireless speeds, as well as simultaneous dual-band 2.4GHz and 5GHz networks. It also has beamforming technology and support for Bluetooth Smart. Google says the system will handle channel management and other traffic routing automatically.
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Google Gets Serious About Home Automation: Unveils Google Home, Actions on Google and Google Wifi

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    always on and network connected microphones that sends what they capture to "the cloud" (and who knows who else) for analysis.. just what the world needed more of.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      always on and network connected microphones that sends what they capture to "the cloud" (and who knows who else) for analysis.. just what the world needed more of.

      No. Not to the cloud... to Google. You can be sure they wont share that raw data with anyone, as they can instead sell off anonymized bits and targeted advertizing much more profitably by NOT sharing the raw data.

    • Would hook up aspects of your house management..heating, cooling, locks, etc. to the internet.

    • by jafiwam ( 310805 )

      always on and network connected microphones that sends what they capture to "the cloud" (and who knows who else) for analysis.. just what the world needed more of.

      Don't worry. "Get Serious" is the last stage of a Google project, that means it has about 6 months before all support and development is withdrawn and 8 months till it's abruptly dropped completely.

  • Whoever buys these (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 04, 2016 @06:43PM (#53014487)

    is a fucking moron. Yahoos emails were are routed through NSA's filters, so it's more than likely that this data would too at some point in time.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Why would NSA care about a bunch of grumpy old IT workers who live in their mother's basement?

      • by Anonymous Coward

        "Well, it doesn't violate your expectation of privacy that we installed cameras and microphones in every public bathroom and hotel bedroom, because people are so used to having these at home..."

        The NSA cares about the precedent.

    • I bet if you explained exactly how these work to any of your family or friends, they would think twice about buying one. If you pointed out the really basic vulnerabilities routinely found in these IoT type devices, they would think twice again. Of course in the real world Google's marketing budget is a lot bigger than yours, and plenty of technically naive people will buy one.
      • by donaldm ( 919619 ) on Tuesday October 04, 2016 @07:22PM (#53014655)

        I bet if you explained exactly how these work to any of your family or friends, they would think twice about buying one. If you pointed out the really basic vulnerabilities routinely found in these IoT type devices, they would think twice again. Of course in the real world Google's marketing budget is a lot bigger than yours, and plenty of technically naive people will buy one.

        Family maybe but most friends probably don't want to believe you. After all how many people use Windows 10 with all the default settings turned on because and I quote "I have nothing to hide" or worse still "I have the operating system locked down" (as if).

        • Personally, I live a rather boring life of very little interest to NSA or their equivalents. By keeping data collection turned on, I supply a lot of completely useless information, that may help others to blend in.

          And it makes for much better plausible deniability if I happen to "accidentally" leave my phone at home or let it run out of battery.

      • People know; people don't care. Everybody knows Facebook and Google tracks them for advertising and so forth, just they don't think the information will be used for anything for malevolent than targeted advertisements.

        If you explain how nobody should use Facebook because of privacy issues, you will come off as a weird/paranoid Luddite. If you explain that credit cards can be used to track you and your spending behavior and should be absolutely avoided, you will come off as crazy. Family might humor your

        • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

          The worst of it all, targeted political advertisements, now that is as evil as it gets. They are not happy with your political choices, which they get from poking you in your priavte places, no problems, send you a bunch of targeted advertisements, telling you that you support terrorism, that you support Russia, that you support China, that unless you vote for who they tell you to vote for, they will expose and destroy you https://techcrunch.com/2016/09... [techcrunch.com] (the ugly reality in reality the main stream media

          • what did this guy do, he took the piss out of bullshitting politicians

            Nah, he supported a targeted hate meme campaign against a presidential candidate.

        • People know; people don't care. Everybody knows Facebook and Google tracks them for advertising and so forth, just they don't think the information will be used for anything for malevolent than targeted advertisements.

          If you explain how nobody should use Facebook because of privacy issues, you will come off as a weird/paranoid Luddite. If you explain that credit cards can be used to track you and your spending behavior and should be absolutely avoided, you will come off as crazy. Family might humor your anti-Google rants because they're used to having to deal with you, and you're family, but no the large majority of people do not care and are not going to care and are just going to think you're weird.

          Astute observation. I don't think I want to test this to find out, but I'm curious...

          I have the devices turned on, monitoring my innocent life where I get pissed at assholes and political asshats occasionally, but mostly am interested in science and the Universe. Then, I start talking about bombs. Just curiosity about how they're made and what these terrorist idiots think they'll accomplish with them;

          Do I get advertisements about the next episode of The Universe and bomb safety gear, or the NSA/FBI/DHS/e

      • I have, they didn't care, "We aren't that important."

      • I know exactly how they work and what I am giving up and what I get in return. I am well aware of the vulnerabilities found in various IOT devices. I've been a software developer for 25+ years. I probably will buy one anyway. I trust google to fix vulnerabilities fairly quickly, more so than other IOT companies. I'm certainly not going to be doing my banking over the thing, but I like the idea of this kind of assistant and am willing to make the trade off.

    • I've accepted that Google has been bought out years ago. I still use them. If for nothing else than to keep up the appearances of a happy middle aged white American. I just gave up and accepted the NSA is always listening when I'm out and about.

      I still have an Echo in the living room. It turns on and off lights. It's not difficult to unplug or put into a faraday's cage should I be planning a coup. It's not like I we mix in nation-state planning in with dinner recipes. It's in a fixed location in the house a

  • Not in my house ! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 04, 2016 @06:47PM (#53014499)

    The very last things I would ever want in my house are either Google or Microsoft "internet of shit security" (IOSS) devices. Not only would they be as insecure as all the other crap that's been put out there so far they'd be 100% guaranteed to be spying on every single thing you do.

    The way things are going you won't even be able to take a shit without Google & Microsoft knowing about it.

    Fuck all this nonsense. I'm going back to pen and paper for notes and the dumbest phone I can find for the limited amount of time I'm prepared to actually talk to people on the phone (if I didn;t need one for work I'd not bother with one at all).

    You can stick this fucking "techno" Panopticon right up your fucking arses !!!

  • Not really convinced this is a "serious" platform for home automation - turning on Hue lights or playing music via voice command is hipster cool, but where is the deep support for real physical infrastructure:

    - X10 and Zwave lighting
    - Thermostats of all varieties, including the dumb kind
    - Infrared, with support for both regular home theatre gear AND wall mounted air conditioners.
    - Curtain / blind controllers and aircon zone controllers
    - Relay contact outputs
    - Energy monitoring and trending

    Then, what about a

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I guess all this would be really useful if you were a paraplegic.

      Or one of those obese people stuck to the couch.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Dude, what are you on about? This isn't for home automation. This is for gathering as much information about you as possible so Google can sell it on and Larry and Sergey can buy more jets and politicians and shit.

    • Not really convinced this is a "serious" platform for home automation - turning on Hue lights or playing music via voice command is hipster cool, but where is the deep support for real physical infrastructure:

      - X10 and Zwave lighting - Thermostats of all varieties, including the dumb kind - Infrared, with support for both regular home theatre gear AND wall mounted air conditioners. - Curtain / blind controllers and aircon zone controllers - Relay contact outputs - Energy monitoring and trending

      Then, what about all of the rules that make Home Automation automated?

      Some of that is available already with Apple HomeKit-compatible devices.

      Since Apple is rumored to be working on a home server like this, with their wanting to do more things like speech recognition and "local" queries and commands "on-device", would you feel more secure with a home server that would not/could not send audio to the mothership at any time for doing speech to text?

      • Homekit do not offer a home server just yet; at this time, what Apple and Google offer is not Home Automation but merely remote control. Also, note what GP wrote:

        - Thermostats of all varieties, including the dumb kind

        (Emphasis mine) That's the weakness of Apple's (and many others') HA offering: they are not designed for easy interoperability. Apple do not even allow bridging to non-HomeKit equipment if it communicates by WiFi, they want to force you to do buy equipment supporting their own stack. That device for reading Dutch smart power meters? Can't use

        • Homekit do not offer a home server just yet; at this time, what Apple and Google offer is not Home Automation but merely remote control. Also, note what GP wrote:

          - Thermostats of all varieties, including the dumb kind

          (Emphasis mine) That's the weakness of Apple's (and many others') HA offering: they are not designed for easy interoperability. Apple do not even allow bridging to non-HomeKit equipment if it communicates by WiFi, they want to force you to do buy equipment supporting their own stack. That device for reading Dutch smart power meters? Can't use it. That weird WiFi enabled thermostat for your jacuzzi? Can't use it. Go pester the manufacturer for a HomeKit version. Contrast that with a HA platform like Vera; whatever its other shortcomings, it was designed for interoperability, and writing plugins for equipment is easy and encouraged. If you want to be considered to be "serious about home automation", at the very least you need to have a HA server in your lineup, and design for interoperability. Because I can pretty much guarantee that no stack will support every device that a typical user will want to control when they move beyond simply remotely controlling their lights.

          I agree with everything you said. I just hope Apple starts putting some real effort into doing those things. Since they appear to be interested in a Home Server, I can only hope that they follow the Vera model, and provide a plugin architecture for protocol-drivers. As you said, (lack of) interoperability has been THE issue with HA for DECADES, and it just has to stop. In a lot of ways, Echelon had the right idea back in the early 1990s; but they just wanted too much for development systems ($25k IIRC, when

      • Since Apple is rumored to be working on a home server like this, with their wanting to do more things like speech recognition and "local" queries and commands "on-device", would you feel more secure with a home server that would not/could not send audio to the mothership at any time for doing speech to text?

        Home server... Whoa. Deja vu moment. Now I keep thinking about a politician. It won't go away. Make it stop!!!

        • Since Apple is rumored to be working on a home server like this, with their wanting to do more things like speech recognition and "local" queries and commands "on-device", would you feel more secure with a home server that would not/could not send audio to the mothership at any time for doing speech to text?

          Home server... Whoa. Deja vu moment. Now I keep thinking about a politician. It won't go away. Make it stop!!!

          I feel this is some sort of Trump reference; but I'm not sure... Please explain.

          • Trump was mentioned nowhere. It was an attempt at humorous presentation of a concept triggering a subconscious thought that repeats in the head, leading to a proverbial begging for assistance in making it stop (see: someone sang a few words and a song gets stuck in your head).

            Reference in this case for Hillary: home server.

            Do you have Asperger's? Heh.

            • Trump was mentioned nowhere. It was an attempt at humorous presentation of a concept triggering a subconscious thought that repeats in the head, leading to a proverbial begging for assistance in making it stop (see: someone sang a few words and a song gets stuck in your head).

              Reference in this case for Hillary: home server.

              Do you have Asperger's? Heh.

              Oh, yeah. Hillary! Duh!!!! (facepalm)

              • OMG feeling much better now. I was gonna say, "Why is that cool person I friended all hatin' on me or some such jazz??"

                Hence the Asperger's question. Like, "Do you really have no sense of humor and try to interpret everything literally with presumption based on your state of mind at the time??"

                Whew. I was gonna feel really weird friending someone and getting attacked by them. Sorry. I'll assume anything in the future is just a miss on my part or yours. Did I say "Whew" yet? :)

                • OMG feeling much better now. I was gonna say, "Why is that cool person I friended all hatin' on me or some such jazz??"

                  Hence the Asperger's question. Like, "Do you really have no sense of humor and try to interpret everything literally with presumption based on your state of mind at the time??"

                  Whew. I was gonna feel really weird friending someone and getting attacked by them. Sorry. I'll assume anything in the future is just a miss on my part or yours. Did I say "Whew" yet? :)

                  LOLOL! Sorry, man! Really, I'm as normal as anyone on Slashdot.

                  Oh, wait... ;-)

                  Oh, and thanks for "friending" me. I don't have many on here, mainly due to my platform-choice, I guess...

                  • I think if you friend me back we can actually talk to each other out of the comment section. I would like to if that's cool with you.

                    • I think if you friend me back we can actually talk to each other out of the comment section. I would like to if that's cool with you.

                      Done. But how does that "out-of-band" PMing work on here? Never done it.

                    • I'm quite confused at the moment. I have a "journal" and it's visible to others.... but I can't find out how you can access it. It used to be easy and obvious. I'm trying. I posted an entry just to allow talking. If you can find it, you're awesome. I would love to see how you did. I think you can't get into a journal if you're not logged in, but if I'm logged in I can only see my journal in that context. Let me know what you find, if anything. LOL

                    • I'm quite confused at the moment. I have a "journal" and it's visible to others.... but I can't find out how you can access it. It used to be easy and obvious. I'm trying. I posted an entry just to allow talking. If you can find it, you're awesome. I would love to see how you did. I think you can't get into a journal if you're not logged in, but if I'm logged in I can only see my journal in that context. Let me know what you find, if anything. LOL

                      P Well, I found you Journal post. I clicked on the "me" in the upper right of every page (looks like a head on my browser, looks like my username on my iPad), and in the "friends" list on the right, I clicked on you username, and I was transported to a page that had a list of your comments, with one near the top that had a "Journal" Tag in theTitle-Bar.

                      But as you can guess from this comment, there didn't seem to be a way to REPLY to that Journal post. So...?

                    • Gah. That is so annoying. I have no freaking clue. It used to be so easy back in the day. I don't know what kind of change they made that made it like this, but it's kind of weirding me out. You used to be able to just go into someone's journal and comment on it. Comments could be in Threads or one by one. Whatever you wanted. I repeat Gah!

                    • Well, I still might be able to post into your journal. Let me play around a bit...
                    • No way to post nor reply to someone else's Journal. Sigh.

                      So, until one of use lowers security enough to make our email addy viewable, there will be no PMing. And since I am a Luddite who doesn't believe in Social(ist) Media like FB, LinkedIn Google+, etc., I am at a loss as to how to proceed...

                      Ideas?
                    • I'm a similar luddite. Eff that crap. You can use my I don't care address that I use for the purpose of not giving out my email address - mtownohio@hotmail.com. Didn't think of that until now. Derrrrrp.

    • by swb ( 14022 )

      The existing standards are fragmented and primitive. Home automation now isn't that much less complex than industrial automation and no single vendor sells everything or has enough reach into unintelligent devices to offer a comprehensive solution that literally does everything and does it easily.

      This leaves room for big vendors like Apple or Google to roll in with their own take on the entire stack, complete with walled implementations that ignore other existing standards because those standards they can'

      • There's plenty of X10 and Zigbee based products out there that are easy to use. I have Insteon's automation controller and their product line is pretty complete. Dimmer and on/off switches and outlets, open/close sensors, IP cameras, thermostat, water sensor, motion detectors, keypads, remotes, lightbulbs, etc. They even have wire-in modules if you want to build something more complicated.

        Some of their devices have to be installed behind wall plates, but others like the on/off and dimmer modules are sta

    • Not really convinced this is a "serious" platform for home automation - turning on Hue lights or playing music via voice command is hipster cool, but where is the deep support for real physical infrastructure:

      - X10 and Zwave lighting - Thermostats of all varieties, including the dumb kind - Infrared, with support for both regular home theatre gear AND wall mounted air conditioners. - Curtain / blind controllers and aircon zone controllers - Relay contact outputs - Energy monitoring and trending

      Then, what about all of the rules that make Home Automation automated?

      Well, I just did a Google search on "HomeKit and X10" and came up with this interesting article [brettterpstra.com] about a thing called "HomeBridge", which might answer the need for protocol "plugins".

  • ... until you realize it's Google and they're going to steal all your personal information off the wire and send it to home base. sigh.

    • Do you use Chrome? Android? Google.com? Any other service used or owned by Google?

      Congratulations, Google already knows everything about you.

  • by martiniturbide ( 1203660 ) on Tuesday October 04, 2016 @07:49PM (#53014765) Homepage Journal
    I know everybody says it is easy to set up with Android or iOS, but I miss the old days when a router was able to be set up with the web browser and you have full control over its features.
    • I know everybody says it is easy to set up with Android or iOS, but I miss the old days when a router was able to be set up with the web browser and you have full control over its features.

      You can buy One of these [newegg.com], or use the Google models which are just plain ole' routers with the phones/Google OS laptops handling the traffic interruption / handoff themselves, like, you know, they already do. ;)

  • This is why I don't put devices like the Nest products in my house - it's bad enough to have my smoke detectors track you and likely report back your position to Google, I can't imagine why anyone would want every household conversation sent to Google as well. The upside is Google lets you know they are watching you all the time, where it is unknown with gov't organizations
  • by AbRASiON ( 589899 ) * on Tuesday October 04, 2016 @08:37PM (#53014953) Journal

    What % of slashdot posters actually trust google? Even the mildly paranoid ones rather than the full tinfoil nutters?

    Even if you don't mind them having some information on you, if you like a service they offer, they'll /probably/ shut it down within 12 to 36 months, or they'll re-brand the product, adjust it heavily, integrate it with something else or redesign it so horrifically it's a shadow of its former self.

    I regret to admit I use 4 google products pretty heavily, being Android, Gmail, Youtube and Chrome (in that order of use too) I could probably ditch Chrome if bloody firefox would up their game on performance, but sadly, if anything Firefox is getting slower and losing marketshare to Chrome.

    Seriously, they have significant information on people over the years and they continue to gather and link more and more. Furthermore they are pretty incompetent at some things (look at the messaging systems for Android, they still STILL haven't come close to just plain old cloning imessage) they've just released a 3'rd chat application which is just a mess.

    Would you really want MORE google stuff in the house? Routers, Wifi equipment, Chromecasts?
    Thank god they aren't as amazing and competent as they used to be, back in the day we 'gave up' our stuff, willingly because god damn they simply had the best stuff, now, I'm not even sure it's worth doing for their diluted products.

    In conclusion? Yeah, not a chance.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      What % of slashdot posters actually trust Microsoft? Even the mildly paranoid ones rather than the full tinfoil nutters?

      Fixed that for you.

      M$ has root, brah.

      No tinfoil nutters needed.

    • if you like a service they offer, they'll /probably/ shut it down within 12 to 36 months, or they'll re-brand the product, adjust it heavily, integrate it with something else or redesign it so horrifically it's a shadow of its former self.

      I think we saw that in action today. I guess Google Now has been rebranded, adjusted, integrated, and redesigned into Google Assistant?

      • I think we saw that in action today. I guess Google Now has been rebranded, adjusted, integrated, and redesigned into Google Assistant?

        I believe they announced Assistant back in May at I/O 2016. It seems like a rebrand with additional functionality tacked on.

    • Chromecast is pretty rad.

  • ... that is likely to drop the full product lines in few years in another product rationalization.

    • First thing I thought of too. Horrible track record of just shutting down projects and devices. A device like this would be a brick if they shut it down. At least with non cloud devices you can keep using it.
  • by Bearhouse ( 1034238 ) on Wednesday October 05, 2016 @02:35AM (#53015811)

    A bit later than 1984, but we finally got there.

    Who'd have thought it? Not content with letting pretty much anyone (including criminals) read their mail, track their movements with CCTV, spoofed phones and car license plate readers etc, the citizenry are actually buying them and installing this crap themselves!
    That's right, apparently it's just too hard to stream music or adjust a thermostat by hand; you now have to install a device that is always on, always listening in order to whistle up a recipe or get the sports. They must be mad.

  • How could anyone be dumb enough to install this kind of direct surveillance device in their home or office? No... No.. No... I don't even want to be in the same room with this thing.
  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Wednesday October 05, 2016 @06:19AM (#53016337)

    I get to pay a fortune so I bug my home, send any conversation I have to Google, and in return I get some gimmicks, which will work for as long as Google deems that service useful (and as we know, they have a really stellar record of long term support of their projects).

    What I didn't read in the whole article is what kind of pressurizing medium they have on me that I would allow this to happen, but I guess at the very least they would be able to kill my firstborn if I don't.

    In other words: Who in their sane mind would WANT something like this???

  • I see a lot of the posts in this thread are people railing against Googles new surveillance device. Yet the majority of them probably have an Android phone sitting in their pocket. How is this any different? What makes this fundamentally worse?

    Either you support this kind of device implicitly by carrying an Android (or iOS) phone or you don't support it by not carrying a phone at all. You can't have it both ways.

  • "Google Gets Serious About Surveillance."

    Soon - much to the delight of Dr. Farnsworth - their products will be so invasive as to be offered as a suppository.
  • I'm always surprised that articles like this don't cause a discussion about Revolv.

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