Smart homes and smart buildings aren’t for the ultra-rich… anymore. We’ve come to a time in our existence where our technological advancements have allowed for desire, need and know how of a more connected lifestyle, between home and work. After all, it’s no longer about a work-life balance, it’s really all about the work-life blend in a world where automation and integration rule the nation. Having all this wonderful convenience accessible to us at a moments notice, is a reality our children are and will be born with. It’s rapidly changing the way we interact and communicate with each-other, how we obtain information and how we experience everything.
There’s a race taking place right now, and the winner gets to be your lifestyle assistant brand of choice. If you’re not familiar with what I mean, go back and read Part 1 of this blog; go ahead, I’ll wait. Now that you’re caught up, lets cover the basics of why Google might end up being your preferred lifestyle brand of choice and not Amazon.
Alphabet‘s honor student company, Google, is no stranger to your home, business or any other aspect of your life. They, much like Amazon, have been acquiring select businesses and technologies strategically, in order to build upon their initial purpose and offerings and further integrate themselves deeper into society; have you noticed yet?
Let’s runs down a short list of examples, so that you’ll understand what is capable and available to you today from this (once) search giant’s, current offerings:
Project Fi: A universe of data when you need it, savings when you don’t. Project Fi is a new type of phone service from Google that uses a culmination of Sprint, T-Mobile and US Cellular’s cell towers, to provide you more service in more places, nationally and internationally; service starts at about $10/GB a month.
Google Fiber: A faster and more reliable internet from Google; with up to 1,000 megabits per second, do whatever you want, whenever you want. Download in seconds, stream instantly and say goodbye to buffering. Go ahead, use all those devices at the same time. Imagine your home or office with fiber speeds and connectivity; now think about your Wi-Fi system and all the devices that used to block that digital highway. Google Fiber sounds great, but only if you’re in a city that currently offers it, or in one of the next potential cities where they could implement next (view the map here).
Google Wi-Fi: Google Wi-Fi replaces your router and works with your modem and ISP (Internet Service Provider), so you can stream, download and share without missing a beat; some have even called it “The best Wi-Fi system on the market.” In this day and age, if you don’t have a solid network, wired and/or wireless, then it doesn’t matter how good or “cool” your control system is because it won’t for without it.
Android: The worlds most popular OS is now smarter, faster, and better than ever. Originally built for mobile handheld devices, Android has expanded into TV, Auto, Enterprise, etc. Just in case you couldn’t tell, my preferred mobile OS is Android, and I live within Google’s ecosystem, currently, Android is 8. More and more appliances are getting “Connected,” and guess what they’re powered by? Blackberry OS! OK, that was mean; they’re powered by Android, which means apps on apps on apps. More info and command, from all aspects throughout your day.
Android Wear: A fashion and lifestyle accessory/extension of Android, much life the Apple watch is to iOS. The ability to tell your digital assistant to play music or give you turn-by-turn directions, on my watch promotes safer driving, deeper integrations through-ought my day, from home to the office and back.
Android TV: All the content you love, exactly the way you want it. Entertainment tailored for you and now with the Google assistant built in; they’ve also got Chromecast built in. Welcome to a smarter way to watch.
Chromecast: A streaming media device built as a physical extension Chrome. Google’s web browser, but designed to play well with all your favorite apps — now with your TV. No need to log in again — just tap the Cast button to start streaming entertainment and pick your location of choice to send media to. As far as streaming media is concerned, Google offers one of the least expensive options, and it just works; plain and simple.
Google Assistant: We now have digital assistants and this changes everything. Google is building theirs into as much of their own hardware as possible, ready to help, wherever you are. Currently, the assistant can work on your phone, your speaker, your watch, your laptop, your TV, in your car or a smart display. It’s great because it works with all your favorite stuff too. Google’s assistant is actively partnering with many other manufacturers, to allow voice control of their products, because they wan to be your preferred voice control and assistant, in as many place as possible.
Google Home (Mini and Max): While Google may not be first to market in the smart speaker/assistant category, they are excelling at it. Unlike Amazon, the Google Home products can recognize multiple voice signatures and associate them to their associated Gmail accounts, whereas Alexa can only handle a single account currently. Here’s where this voice control experience differs from their competition; you get answers tailored to your life vs. whoever initially set the account up. Being able to do this changes your choice in a purchase of not only the smart speaker, but future purchases based on what their compatible with. Alexa is improving each day, but is it too late?
Nest: Nest Labs, a smart move from Google — here’s where they first started making Google a household brand. With the initial product from them being their learning thermostat, run by co-founder Tony Fadell, former senior VP of the iPod division at Apple and later Google Glass division when Google acquired Nest. Since its initial product, they’ve launched a smart Smoke & CO alarm, a whole suite of Nest Cams (formerly DropCam — a guest on my Podcast, AV Insider), an alarm system, a video Doorbell, integration with a smart YALE branded lock and of course integration with their Google home and Google assistant products. Then there’s the works with Nest program, another brilliant move from the company, as it’s better to play well with others than it is to close off your platform and technology, thereby locking you into one choice. You can also control Nest items via voice if you have their assistant Alexa as well. Google assistant is now built into Nest IQ Cams, because why not? Google assistant is convenient everywhere you go. If you’re interested in learning more about NEST, or perhaps the Nest Pro program, listen to my interview with them here.
YouTube: Google’s extremely popular video service just recently expanded this arena with YouTube Red: uninterrupted music, ad-free videos and more. For $9.99 a month, this is their version of a Netflix-esque service; not to be confused with their music service, Google Play Music, which both can, be “casted” to Chromecast device and played wirelessly at that video or audio location. This can be done via an app or simply by saying “Hey Google, play Star Wars: The Last Jedi, on R2D2 (I named my bedroom Chromecast after my favorite Droid) in the bedroom,” and shortly after those words are spoken, your Google Assistant will make it happen (if proper accounts are connected within the app) in front of your very eyes. YouTube has always been for creators, but you can host all you Google Hangouts there for educational purposes or for memories — your choice. Watch videos from the smart device of your choice.
Pixel Product Family: Laptops and phones that both have Google Assistant embedded, and are always powered by the latest version of Android. They add an extra layer of value whether using at home and between work, school and everywhere you go. Pixel phones are really fast and great for communication, collaboration, creation and more. Pixelbooks are a really good media interface, the Pixelbook Pen is the only pen that works with the Google assistant, and together they create a very helpful and unique computing experience. Creating on these smart devices is a fairly simple process, and almost to simple for my taste, but they are free with any Gmail account and free is good for me. While both Pixel laptops and phones can store a ton of your data, some files are best stored and collaborated on in the cloud. Google is no stranger to smart device hardware, Pixel is just it’s latest variation of it; previously we had the Nexus program.
Google Drive: Google’s version of DropBox, a safe place for all your files.You get 15GB of free file storage of any sort, access them when you need them from anywhere with an internet connection, from any smart device. This service comes standard with every Gmail account, so if you’re a creative brand, company, online personality or a family who wants to store memories, Drive is the right choice for you.
G-Suite: A collection of Google creation, communication and collaboration tools, simple, easy and still powerful for business.These tools can be used on your smart device of choice, and your team can create and edit together, all within the same file, at the same time. I like G-Suite, it’s extremely useful and it gets the job done.
Google JamBoard: The newest edition to G-Suite, and a new way to collaborate. This 55″, 4K interactive collaboration board is a joint effort between Google and BenQ that is definitely a shot at Microsoft’s Surface Hub. It’s far less expensive, does everything you’d need for a creative and collaborative meeting, but is only meant for Google apps, much like the ones within G-Suite (these exact apps). Google wants to simplify collaboration and make the creative process and more interactive with teams; G-Suite and JamBoard really make it easy. Add some digital assistants to the party, from phone, tablet, computer, PixelPen, smartwatch or whatever your preference and you’re cooking with creativity. This may not be the ideal solution for some, while other may love it; either way, it’s a impressive solution to consider.
Google Domains: Find a domain, create a site and get custom email. If you’re a google platform business, this option is for you; fair pricing, great solutions at your disposal. G-Suite options can be found here as well.
Gmail: Ah yes, the basis for anything Google related. The beginning of your Google branded lifestyle starts here, no matter what solution desired from the Big G; anything you choose will require one of these. It’s free, its simple and it’s the gateway to a new way of working, creating, collaborating, communicating and living. If you don’t already have one of these, I suggest you start, if only to test what Google offers, as opposed to Amazon, for a better comparison between the two brands.
There are quite a few other services like Google+, Google Play Store (containing: Play Books, Play Games, Play Music, Play movies and Newstand), which are handy, free (to some extent) and are heavily promoted/embed with Google’s ecosystem. These, plus all the previous examples provided, really smooth the transition between life and work, for a complete work life balance.
Google also offers a lot in way of the connected lifestyle and Alexa too shares this offering, especially since the acquisition of RING Labs. Amazon has a brilliant service called Prime, whereas “Google Offers” falls short by comparison; although its still a nice shopping service from Google, just a way different experience. Neither company is still quite the best of the best, but you can bet your bottom Bitcoin we’re going to see a lot of further development and integration of each digital assistant in their respective products, but possibly not with each others… anymore.
The race is on and tomorrow is another day, where there’s a battle between Amazon and Google, their army is IOT, and the prize is your allegiance to their brand. But who will rise and who will fall?
For all your AV and technology information, follow me just past the horizon, where I’ll keep you updated, here at rAVe [Publications].