In a blog post today, Google Assistant Product Manager Deniz Binay and Google Home Product Manager Alexa Duong announced that the Google Home calling feature is now available. The feature will be rolling out to Google Home users in the U.S. and Canada over the next week and will be free for calls in the region. The product managers commented in the post:
You can already ask your Assistant on your phone to make a call and soon, you’ll be able to do the same on Google Home—hands-free—in the U.S. and Canada. Call anyone (at their home, on their mobile or at their office)
Call Contacts Based on Google User Accounts
Many users know that Google Home can be trained to recognize household users by voice. That means if a user’s voice is linked to her Google account, she can make calls specifically from her contact list while other household users can do so from their accounts as well. This is a nice feature that avoids the need to switch accounts or ties connections only to users with Google Home.
Google Home Calling is About Catching Up with Amazon Alexa
The calling feature was announced earlier in the year at the Google I/O annual developer conference. So far, Google has had a good track record of fulfilling its promises from that event. In international markets, Google promised to match all of Amazon’s coverage and it did. Google is now in every market where Amazon Echo was previously launched. During that process, Google also entered three markets where Amazon has yet to enter: Australia, Canada and France.
The calling feature is another move to match Amazon’s early lead. Some of the promised features go beyond what Alexa offers today, but Google Home still doesn’t offer messaging. That wasn’t a promised feature and Google has been focusing on its Allo app for those features. However, there is some elegance in bringing those feature sets of calling and messaging into the voice assistant. The key takeaway is that Google is rapidly closing the gap with Amazon, moving ahead with some feature sets and still behind in others. However, from a feature function standpoint, the differences are diminishing by the month.