Google Home announced 11 smart home partners for the Google Home personal assistant/speaker device. These new partners will enable Google to give the Amazon Echo a run for its money when it comes to controlling devices in the home. It’s a section of skills that the Google Home device has lacked, despite launching with support from SmartThings, Hue lights, Nest and If This Then That.
Google now adds August, the maker of a connected lock; Wink, the maker of a smart home hub; LIFX light bulbs; Rachio connected sprinklers; Vivint, the maker of a home alarm platform; appliance maker Frigidaire; First Alert, TP-Link; Best Buy Insignia brands; Geeni smart bulbs; and Anova, the maker of a sou vide cooker.
To connect the skills, you merely go through the Google Home app’s menu, select Home Control and then hit the + link to add the Wink, August, etc. from a list of devices. With the August lock, you’ll need an August Connect so your lock can talk to the home’s Wi-Fi. You can check the status of a lock and lock it, but you won’t be able to unlock it.
The Vivint partnership is also interesting because it’s the first professionally installed security and home automation system to link to the Google Home. It won’t be available until April however, so we’ll have to wait and see.
Google’s move is a significant one for people considering the platform for controlling their smart homes. Voice, primarily through the Amazon Echo, has led to a revival of interest in connected home tech in the last year. Amazon has seen a 60% growth in smart home skills on its platform since January, leading to 277 total skills in that category. Google Home has a ways to go before it catches up.
On the consumer side, however, the Google Home interface has a lot of fans. It’s better able to tell what a person is really asking and gives better results based on Google search. The Echo has a more prescribed interface and searches Bing to get answers. In general, I have enjoyed using the Google Home more than the Echo, but have kept the Echo in its place of honor in the kitchen because it works with all of my devices. With this update, I’m close to relegating the Amazon Echo to the master bathroom for a while so I can see how Google Home performs.