Monthly Archives: May 2016

Google Home is a Reality

This isn’t exactly news as it is a few weeks old, but we knew that Google was going to create their own Alexa/Echo competitor. Now we know it is named Google Home and that it is generally similar to the Amazon Echo.

You can find out more about Google Home from it’s official website. We don’t know when it will be released, but most people think it will be out by the fall. We also don’t know how much it will cost, but my guess is that Google will price it aggressively to grow market share as it plays catch up to Amazon.

One thing that I found surprising is the The Verge’s coverage of the Google Home’s sound. It’s said to be superior to Amazon Echo’s. The Verge has an interesting quote that caught my eye:

“[The speaker is] important, because one of the main use cases Google is foreseeing here is listening to music. The Echo isn’t great at that.”

I don’t know where The Verge is getting their Amazon Echos, but mine is GREAT for listening to music. It’s one of the things that separates it from any other gadget I’ve owned. And lets not forget that the Echo Dot allows you to bring any speakers you want to the party.

There are a few other tricks up Google Home’s sleeve. The ability to play with it’s Cast platform allows for a lot of flexibility to have it talk to your television. On the minus side, Google Home hasn’t made a developer API available, so companies can’t simply integrate with it (without formally partnering with Google first). I’m betting that will change, but if it doesn’t, it may come back to hurt Google.

I’m going to reserve judgment until the Google Home is released and I read some real world reviews or get my hands on one.

Google’s “Chirping” on Alexa/Echo’s Plans?

Technology website Recode is reporting that Google may have an Echo-like device by the end of the year.

When I worked in the tech industry the CEO would spin this new competition as validation that our company was working on all cylinders. To some degree that makes sense, but you always had to fear getting Google’d out of business. How many of you still use Lycos to search, have Palm products, or use MapQuest?

It was only a matter of time until Google, Apple, and Microsoft started to get in on Echo’s hands-free, always-on benefits. They already have the back-end personal assistant in Google Now, Siri, and Cortana. It simply makes too much sense for them not to do it. I’m almost surprised it isn’t already in your Xbox and Apple TV.

According to Record, Google is going to redesign it’s OnHub router with it’s new Chirp capabilities. It should come as no surprise that the OnHub, look’s very much like Amazon Echo.

At the end of the day, the competition will be a win for consumers. People will have more choice and the companies will push each other adding new features.

These always listening assistants may very well might be the next new platform now that smartphone innovation has leveled off.

Alexa Hardware Beyond Echo: Invoxia Triby

When I first started this blog one of the earliest articles I intended to write was the Invoixia Triby. And then I got really busy (as you might have noticed). I’ve still managed to cover quite a bit about Alexa/Echo universe, but this one slipped through the cracks.

However, the long announced Triby is
now available for sale
. It’ll set you back $169… at least at the current discounted price. It’s quickly got 22 reviews on Amazon, which is pretty notable for such a new product.

So What’s the Invoixia Triby

I think it’s the first hardware to use Amazon’s Alexa Voice Service that isn’t from Amazon itself. It’s pitched as a family messaging center that conveniently stay on your fridge. It looks like a retro-radio, but with an E-ink screen and a physical messaging flag that comes out when there’s a message left on it (presumably for another family member).

This review isn’t going to all-encompassing for three reasons:

  1. The most practical reason is that I haven’t bought the Triby and I don’t plan to. Without actual hands-on experience with the device, I don’t want to get too specific into the details that I might mistake.
  2. I read that the always-on aspect of the Alexa is only good for 2-hours when it isn’t plugged-in. Otherwise, you need to press a button like the Amazon Tap. I suppose it’s nice to the portability option, but I’d need it always plugged-in.
  3. My refrigerator is stainless steel, so the magnets wouldn’t stick to it. Other than that, my 2 and 3 year olds aren’t really at the age of needing this… or taking advantage of it. So it would just be my wife and I using it to communicate. I think for less than half the price of an Echo Dot, we can make due with a pad of paper.

On the bright side, the hassle-free calls seems like a great feature. Also, there’s real value to having an E-ink display… or at least there’s potential value.

Final Thoughts

Overall the Triby is interesting and I’m almost finding myself talking myself into it. If my life was in a different place (say 8 years from now), I might feel differently about it. In fact, I feel like this review from The Verge covered how I might feel about it well.

I’m personally going to wait and see what the next version has in store. At that point, I might be willing to nearly $200 for it, but I think I’d feel more comfortable paying $75 for the Triby.