Google is making an overdue push into Aussie homes this week with the local launch of its Google Home and Google Wifi gadgets.
Google Home is a voice-activated 'smart speaker' running Google Assistant software, which is going toe-to-toe with Apple's Siri in the personal assistant space.
Saying "Hey, Google" or "Okay, Google" to this stylish little hub – which is roughly the same size as a can of soft drink – activates the Assistant to call up information from a Google search; set reminders, schedule meetings, check your online calendar and perform other daily tasks; and also control WiFi-connected devices such as Philips Hue LED globes.
When it's not doing any of that, which is probably 99% of the time, Google Home can play streaming music through a set of punchy speakers.
Google has cannily shaped Home to look more like an odd piece of decor than a slab of tech – and at $199 it's priced to tempt early adopters to scatter a handful of Homes around their home.
Its pint-sized partner in the Google eco-system is Google WiFi, which sets up an inter-connected wireless 'mesh' between each of the puck-shaped modules to blanket your office or home with a strong steady WiFi signal.
Mesh-based technology is intended to defeat WiFi dead zones by letting each 'node' act like a satellite which boosts your WiFi into hard-to-reach places, although small apartments will need just one Google Wifi unit connected to the ADSL, cable or NBN modem.
Position the pucks around your home to fill in wireless dead zones (they'll automatically choose the best wireless channel to use) and fire up the Google Wifi app to adjust network settings and also control access.
Each puck beams out fast dual-band AC1200 WiFi signals and contains a pair of Gigabit Ethernet ports for direct connection to your router or flat-screen telly.
A single Google Wifi module will sell for $199 with a three-pack for $499.
Both Google Home and Google Wifi will be available from this Thursday July 20 from the online Google Store, Officeworks, JB Hi-Fi, Harvey Norman and The Good Guys.
Apple will launch its Siri Speaker in selected countries – including Australia – in December 2017 at around $500.
Amazon, which is gearing up to open a fully-fledged online store in Australia, is also expected to list its Alexa voice assistants such as the Echo and Dot for local sale.