Smart Home speakers now let you control YouTube TV with your voice

October 19, 2017

Google continues to add more media and smart speaker integrations across its growing number of hardware and software products, and today YouTube TV support has arrived. Now, if you have a Google Home speaker — that includes the new Home Mini and Home Max that were announced earlier this month — you can use your voice to control YouTube TV broadcasts. You will, of course, need the YouTube TV app to be running on a Chromecast hooked up to your TV.

Google Home 

Google Home is a Wi-Fi speaker that also works as a smarthome control centre and an assistant for the whole family. You can use it to playback entertainment throughout your entire home, effortlessly manage everyday tasks, and ask Google things you want to know.

The device itself has interchangeable bases available in various colours and finishes (such as metal and fabric, allowing you to match it to your decor). Underneath that swappable shell there is a speaker that can playback songs and allow Google Assistant to talk to you.

At the top of the device there is a capacitive touch display with four LEDs. You’ll use this interact with Home, trigger Assistant, adjust volume, and so forth. As for buttons, there are none at the top (just dual mics that listen for your voice). There is a single mute button on the shell. Google Home is able to filter and separate speech from noise and offers “best-in-class voice recognition”, according to Google.

The speaker features dual side-facing passive radiators, which deliver full range, clear highs, and rich bass. And the entire thing is available in three colour variations: Mango, Marine, and Violet bases join Carbon, Snow, and Copper tops. The bases can be swapped out.

Because Google Home is a Wi-Fi speaker, it can stream music directly from the cloud. With it you can access songs, playlists, albums, artists, and podcasts from your favourite music services just by asking with your voice. Or, if you prefer, you can send music from your Android or iOS device through Google Cast.

That last bit is important because, with Google Cast support, you’ll be able to use Google Home to control other connected speakers in your home. You’ll even get multi-room playback, meaning you can add one or more Google Home devices to a group of speakers in order to blast tunes throughout your house. But that’s not all: Google Home will let you control your video content.

Let’s say you want to watch your latest episode of Daredevil on Netflix, or some sort of cat video on YouTube. Just issue a voice command to Google Home, and the content will appear on your TV (again, thanks to Google Cast support).

Google Home can be a control centre for your entire home, because it has access to Google Assistant (see below). It will let you do the basics like set alarms and timers and manage to-do lists and shopping lists. It will also connect your smarthome and support popular network systems. That means you will be able to control smart lights, switches, doors, and Google’s own Nest products.

Google plans to work with developers so you can control things beyond the home too, such as booking a car, ordering dinner, or sending flowers to a loved one. And the best part is you will be able to do this with just your voice.

Speaking of your voice, Google Home will let you ask Google anything. You can ask for the weather or check facts on Wikipedia. You will have access to Google’s 17 years of search experience. That allows you to ask specific questions such as “How much fat is in an avocado?” or “What is Wayne Rooney’s shirt number?” Those types of questions would stump Amazon Echo, but not Google.

Because Google Home has Google Assistant, you can be conversational and ask follow-up questions like “Where did he go to school?” and Google Home will be able to connect the “he” pronoun to your previous question about Rooney or whoever in order to serve up an accurate answer. You can even ask complex stuff like “What was the US population when NASA was established?”

 Google Home will give you immediate answers each time. Also, it can read the relevant parts of webpages back to you.

At launch, Google Home works with YouTube Music, Spotify, Pandora, Google Play Music, TuneIn, and iHeart Radio.

In the UK there are specific services, such as BBC, Telegraph and Guardian news sources.

With support for these services, you can ask, “OK Google, play that Shakira song from Zootopia.” Without having to name the song, Home can figure it out and play it from your favourite app. Thanks to Google Assistant and its machine-learning capabilities, Google Home knows you and your preferences.

Google Home also works with Nest, SmartThings, Philips Hue, and IFTTT, which means you’ll be able to control these smart home devices and activate your IFTTT recipes using the speaker. Google Home also acts as a Chromecast Audio receiver.

Adding Google Home support is part of a strategy on the company’s part to more deeply intertwine its subsidiary media offerings with its own hardware and personal assistant software. Google just last week added Chromecast voice control for the Google Assistant mobile app, so you could use your voice and Android or iOS device to queue up videos and music to a nearby screen or speaker. That’s great for those who don’t own a Google Home. Yet for those that do, Google adding more integrations will make it even easier to just say out loud what you’d like to watch or hear and not have to worry that the right device is nearby and listening.

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