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Google Home: Your best friend who instantly heeds commands

At this price point, Google Home is a good choice as it saves time while performing some key daily tasks for you

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Google Home.

“OK Google, wake me up at 8 a.m. and book an appointment with the hair stylist at 10 a.m.,” went the instruction to Google Home — the voice-activated speaker powered by Google Assistant.

“Sure, your alarm is set for 8 a.m. and the appointment has been fixed for 10 a.m.,” came the instant reply from Google Assistant — the new lady in my home who, according to senior company executives, has received over 4.5 lakh marriage proposals from India.

The logo of Google

Following the launch of “Amazon Echo” smart speaker in India last year, Google has now brought its “Home” speaker range to the country. Google Home and Home Mini speakers — priced at Rs 9,999 and Rs 4,499, respectively — can help people with their commute, play their favourite songs and videos, plan their daily schedule and lots more.

Let’s see how Google Home fares in the Indian context.

The speaker is capable of understanding the thick Indian accent thanks to two microphones on either side of the LED lights that light up when the device recognises the opening “OK Google” voice command. The two microphones utilise the neural beam forming technique to enable accurate voice recognition. The curves of the device resemble a wine glass. The lower part holds the speakers and the upper part is the main body with the touch-sensitive top.

When the volume is increased or decreased, the device responds with the shimmering ivory-coloured light ring.

Google has trained the Assistant in English and has promised Hindi support later this year.”Play ‘Firestone’ by KYGO,” went another voice command and lo! the device checked the Google Play music subscription — the company is giving six-month free Google Play music subscription when you buy the device — and instantly played the song.

The device also works with music streaming platforms like Saavn and Gaana. The music output was good for a medium-sized room. “OK, Google, play Arijit Singh songs.” She returned with the hit number “Enna sona kyun rab ne banaya”.

If you want to chat or listen to her in an another room, pair another Home device or a Bluetooth speaker with Chromecast support. Another option is to attach a Chromecast Audio device to a speaker. Google Assistant told us the correct score of Delhi Daredevils while it chased the Mumbai Indians’ total in one of the IPL matches.

However, to a question on happenings in Syria, she played a 30-second news bulletin from BBC News. Google has simulated hundreds of thousands of noisy environments and applied Machine Learning (ML) to recognise patterns that allow it to filter and separate speech from noise. Google Assistant understands several languages and can translates sentences into Spanish, French and more.

Also Read: Google Will Take Action If Apps Violate Its Policies

Not only multimedia, Google Home can also control smart devices such as connected Internet of Things (IoT) device “Philips Hue” in your drawing room. We set up Google Home to control a light bulb which was connected via “Philips Hue”. We asked the device to dim, turn off and turn on the light and got the desired results.

What didn’t work?

While playing music, Google Home at times did not receive the command in one go. We had to raise our voice twice or sometimes thrice to get the command through the noisy environment. One important takeaway: Never keep your Google Assistant-enabled smartphone near Home device as the voice command does wake up Assistant in the smartphone too and could ruin the whole experience.

Conclusion: At this price point, Google Home is a good choice as it saves time while performing some key daily tasks for you. It is not the replacement of your better half yet, but does help you with daily chores. Take it home. IANS

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Google’s Censored China Search Engine Project Triggers Protests

Several Google employees, including former Senior Scientist Jack Poulson, resigned in September, citing lack of corporate transparency in the wake of the censored search engine project

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The Google name is displayed outside the company's office in London, Britain. VOA

Google’s offices in the US, UK, Canada, India, Mexico, Chile, Argentina, Sweden, Switzerland, and Denmark witnessed renewed protests by human rights groups over its plan to re-enter China through a censored search application code-named “Project Dragonfly”.

The demonstrations were organised by coalition of Chinese, Tibetan, Uighur, and human rights groups outside the tech giant’s offices. The Tibetan advocacy groups that were protesting included Free Tibet and the International Tibet Network.

“They fear that a censored search engine would lead to further oppression of the Tibetans, as filtered searches would erase terms such as ‘Tibet’ and ‘Tiananmen Square’ in line with the official narrative of the Chinese Communist Party,” the Business Insider reported late on Friday.

The same concerns apply to the Chinese citizens, including other oppressed minorities such as Uighur Muslims and Southern Mongolian people, the report added.

Google, Main One, russia, smart compose
A Google logo is seen at the company’s headquarters in Mountain View, California, VOA

The Internet giant designed a censored version for China search engine to blacklist information about human rights, democracy, peaceful protest, and religion in accordance with strict rules on censorship in the country that are enforced by its Communist Party government.

The dispute began in August 2018 when reports surfaced that Google staffers working on “Project Dragonfly” had been using a Beijing-based website to help develop blacklists for the censored search engine, which was designed to block out broad categories of information related to democracy, human rights, and peaceful protest, according to The Intercept.

Also Read- In the Name of Kabaddi, Punjab Youth Stay Back in Canada

Several Google employees, including former Senior Scientist Jack Poulson, resigned in September, citing lack of corporate transparency in the wake of the censored search engine project.

In December, Google was forced to shut down a data analysis system that it was using to develop the search engine and the teams working on “Project Dragonfly” stopped gathering search queries from mainland China. (IANS)