Ever since its launch, we have seen Amazon Echo receiving one update after another update that empowers it to tap into Alexa’s ever increasing abilities as a competent virtual assistant. In fact, on a casual observation, it would appear as though Amazon releases a new update once every a week or so. This rather aggressive approach displayed by Amazon has definitely pushed a button or two in Google headquarters. Consequently, Mountain View seems to have decided to expedite the Google Home update roadmap, beginning last week when Google’s own smart speaker received a handful of new features and improvements.

Google Home update brings new actions

On December 14, Google announced that Home will now offer Netflix support through Chromecast in addition to the ability to display photos from Google Photos.

“Serve up the holiday classics that make your season bright, hands-free, right to your TV — when Google Home is paired with a Chromecast device. Now, in addition to YouTube videos, you can stream any movie or TV series from Netflix to the TV, using just your voice,” wrote Google Home product manager Tomer Shekel on a blog post.

“Start with ‘Ok Google, play Stranger Things from Netflix on my TV’ or ‘Ok Google, play Love Actually on Netflix on my TV’. You can even control your media with commands like ‘Pause this episode’, without lifting a finger.”

(This tutorial will help you link your Netflix account to Google Assistant using the Google Home app.)

Apart from the aforementioned additions, the internet giant added more than 30 new actions for Home, all from third-party developers.

Thanks to these new features, now you can order pizza from Pizza Hut, arrange your to-do list with Todoist, get updated news from NBC news, CNN, and the likes, as well as a host of other things using only voice commands. Note that these are only a few examples — the coming weeks will see the arrival of more of such so-called Conversation Actions from several other companies.

According to a VentureBeat report, this happens to be the largest additions of actions Home users have seen since the launch of the smart speaker. Overall, there are 35 third-party options now of which 32 are already available.

No doubt, Google Home seems to be on the right path in its efforts to squarely challenge Echo’s dominance in the field. With that in mind, now it remains interesting to see how Amazon is going to respond in the coming months as Google Home bolsters its presence in the international market.

  • Jack Smith

    Have had the Echo since launch and the Google Home for four weeks. These two products are very different and a head scratcher why they are compared so much.

    Basically the Echo you use commands where you talk to the Google Home naturally. The Echo will handle some fuzziness but fundamentally they are variations to commands instead of fundamentally understanding what you are saying.

    Full comment

    We have found the Home to handle majority of our use cases better than the Echo. With the exception ordering stuff.

    So Thompson put up 60 points. “hey google what is the most kobe scored in a game”? Echo can not do this. Watching a rally and all the people have an acronym on their shirt. “hey google what does X mean” and Google answers.

    But it is the inference with music that is where Home really shines. There are times with the Echo you have to do a quick google search but with the Home you can fine what you are looking for with very little and there are situations where the Google Inference is better than a human.

    So say “hey google play gwen sting bottle” and Sting and Gwen Stefani starts playing.
    The last big difference is the Chromecast as output. This is a big thing for us. So wife says “hey google play SNL highlights on TV and the TV turns on, input set and SNL highlights from YouTube start playing.

    Only config by me was renaming the Shield to TV.