Google Home (and its Assistant) gets smarter with 12 new hardware integrations

Last fall, the Google Assistant debuted on the Google Home smart speaker and the Google Pixel smartphone. Initially, the only things that Google Assistant could help with were SmartThings, Nest, Philips Hue and IFTTT. Since the launch, Google has slowly added a few more, such as support for Belkin WeMo and Honeywell. But this week, an entire dozen (not a baker’s dozen) of new integrations were added to the Google Assistant.

Some new integrations will be available within a few weeks from the announcement.

Some new integrations will be available within a few weeks from the announcement.

Now it’s no secret that Google has a long way to go to catch up to the ever-popular Amazon Echo and its Alexa assistant, as she has 10,000 “skills” that can be enabled for her to interact with more of your world. So, to assist with (pardon the pun) getting the Google Assistant in the hands of more users, Google announced in late February that its Assistant would be available for all Android devices running both versions 6 and 7 (that’s Marshmallow and Nougat, for fans of the dessert naming convention). And now, 12 additional companies’ connected-home products work with Google Home, and the Google Assistant.

The latest products joining Google’s Assistant are:

Anova Precision Cooker (Sous Vide), August smart lock, Best Buy Insignia smart plug, First Alert’s smart thermostat, Frigidaire’s Cool Connect smart air conditioner, Geeni smart lighting and switches, LIFX smart lighting, Logitech Harmony Hub, Rachio smart irrigation controller, TP-Link smart bulbs, plugs and switches, Vivint’s smart home system and the Wink smart home hub.

Three very interesting integrations are with the Logitech Harmony and Wink hubs, plus Vivint. These hubs themselves enable many more (linked) devices to be indirectly compatible with the Google Assistant. And since Google is largely thought of to be “The Internet” by many, this could make Google Home the “Internet Assistant of Things”. Secondly, the integration with Vivint brings additional “voice choice” to the growing-in-popularity professionally-installed home automation system. Vivint made headlines at CES this year by introducing the first-of-its-kind AI-based home control system, Sky. Vivint is also heading into Best Buy stores and is attempting to increase their market share with its simplified yet powerful home automation solution.

Google’s Assistant has a better, and more natural language interface than its rivals like Siri and Alexa, at least currently. Rolling the Assistant out to many, many Android users could help Google close the gap between it and Alexa. Although another good solution would be to introduce a lower-priced, smaller smart speaker akin to the Echo Dot. In daily use at the Smarter Home Life home studios, Google Assistant is preferred over Alexa. With Samsung launching Bixby and usability updates expected this year to improve Alexa and Siri (Microsoft, what’s up with Cortana these days?), 2017 is going to be the race to the best personal virtual assistant.