Because one of the long rumored features of the device came to actually pass – you can (or will be able to soon, as its a phased rollout of this new feature) make outgoing phone calls from the Google Home device. It’s not a perfect implementation just yet, and the calling features only work in the United States and Canada for now. But it’s a start, and it finally is a compelling feature that makes the Home product a worthwhile buy.
The smart home product from Google is an investment of about $129 (at just $109 at the time of this writing) that so far has been of limited use in a connected home. It’s list of features from launch ranged from “nice to have” like streaming music or answering basic queries to “will I really use that?” like controlling the smart lights, locks, and thermostats in your smart home. But much like the Chromecast, this was a device that you just knew was going to get better over time. And on Wednesday, Google announced something that DID make the Home better – they added the ability to make phone calls simply by asking the Google Assistant to do so.
Using the hotword trigger “Ok, Google” you can then tell it to call a specific number, or even a contact if you’ve allowed Google access to your contacts. And this simple thing can make a device that costs over a hundred dollars worth every penny. How many times have each of us been at home, doing chores or otherwise have our hands occupied, and need to reach out to someone? How many times do you have your phone on the counter or the kitchen table and would like to call out for a pizza delivery? How many times have you been trying to get the kids ready to go in the bedroom and realized you needed to call your spouse to remind them of something? All of these things are now possible by simply speaking aloud and your wish will be granted. Somewhat automagically, by Google Home.
As noted above, its not a seamless and perfect fit just yet, as the caller ID will be blocked for the other party (unless you are a current Google Voice or Project Fi user, in which case it will show up as you) but that’s coming. As is the ability to receive calls on the Google Home, which isn’t currently available. Those things are coming, and whether or sooner or later they will be a part of what the Google Assistant can do. But this is the first step towards a real connected future; a time where ambient computing is all around us, and removing the last physical barrier between us and the information or services we need – our phones.