Google’s future Google Home device is set to roll out sometime this year, with the company’s new smart-speaker expected to provide direct competition to Amazon’s Echo speaker and its Alexa assistant

The trend of using smart devices to manage smart-homes has taken off thanks mainly to the roll out of devices like Amazon.com, Inc.’s (NASDAQ:AMZN) Bluetooth speaker, Amazon Echo. The Echo’s advent in 2014 along with its digital assistant, Alexa, helped initiate an era where users can control a range of their household appliances and services through simple voice-commands.

Buoyed by the Echo’s success, Amazon took the opportunity to roll out extensions of its Echo speaker, known as the “Tap” and “Dot.” Through this, users can choose to order an Uber, pizza from Dominos, get medical feedback for their child’s health, receive weather and traffic updates, play back music, and many more diverse options.

Besides Alexa’s mechanics that enable her to incorporate a range of “skills”, the main reason behind the speaker’s success lies behind its ability to incorporate third-party services as well, thus broadening the scope of the voice-powered speakers and their virtual assistants.

Now, it seems tech rival Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) has chosen to unveil its own version of a smart-speaker and give Amazon’s Alexa a run for its money. Google Home is the tech giant’s version of its voice-controlled digital assistant which allows users to perform a range of tasks such as adjusting their thermostat temperatures or mark important calendar events.

Google’s device will comparatively be smaller than the Echo. The company is working towards creating “interchangeable base covers” to allow future users to customize their Home devices based on their color preferences. Google hopes to introduce a line of smart-speakers which can be customized to users’ preferences. The company has not disclosed any specifics such as the device’s pricing or exact date of release, probably to use the interim time span for a marketing push for the future home device.

Speculation suggests that the Google speaker has been developed in a manner similar to the Echo. It gets activated simply by picking up on verbal cues like “Hey Google” or “OK Google.” However, so far, Google has not enabled integration of third-party services to its device.

Furthermore, the Google Assistant will most likely incorporate some features from the company’s existing Google Now and OK Google divisions. This may help give Google’s device a distinctive edge against the Echo, which still seems to struggle a bit with complex tasks like translation and search capabilities. Similarly, Home can also perform some tasks which seem beyond Echo, such as sending texts, making reservations, and playing back information on speakers through Google Cast.

Google has not rolled out a demo version for the Home device as yet, but when it eventually does, competition will surely reach new heights in this futuristic devices space, forcing Echo to ramp up its skill-set to continue to thrive. Whoever wins, one thing is for certain: digital assistants are here to stay.

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