For those of you who follow my column, you know it is an understatement, to say I am a fan of technology and gadgetry. My IPhone keeps me in touch with the world, I read books and watch movies on my IPad, I pay my purchases with my Apple Watch and the only way to find where I’m going is with my GPS.
I was pretty much convinced that I had reached the extent of my technical maximus, when lo and behold, Santa brought me Google Home for Christmas. For those of you not familiar with the product, it is not a new Tribute community in Ajax, nor is it a channel on HGTV. Quite simply, Google Home is the newest member of our family.
It stands about 15cm tall, plugs into a regular outlet and controls a plethora of gizmos in my house. First of all, it has a fantastic sound system. The research that went into the speaker system will put the high end Bose structure to shame. Whenever I want to play music I simply say, “Hey Google, play Dean Martin and almost instantly, a solid five or six hours of crooner music blasts from the tiny orb.
Cranking the volume to max allows me to hear it throughout most of the house, and it has access to thousands, if not millions, of songs, all for free. If I have a question, I interrupt the music by saying “Hey Google, what time is it, what’s the weather like, how many ounces in 400 grams…” etc. The answer comes almost immediately and is very accurate (I did a few manual calculations to make sure I was not being duped).
Quite often curiosities arise while I’m watching TV, so instead of wondering about an actor’s age or another film with a similar name, I simply ask “Hey Google, how old is George Burns?”
Speaking of television, I find it a real strenuous task to pick up the remote and push buttons to watch my favourite Netflix program. Now all I do is say, “Hey Google, play Christmas Inheritance on Netflix.” Presto, right before my eyes I see Neil Crone marching into a boardroom and my remote is still where I left it (wherever that might be).
Of course, during the movie, it’s getting darker outside and a simple, “Hey Google, turn the family room light on,” will give you illumination, but that’s old technology. With the Philips Hue lightbulbs, Google Home dims the bulb to the proper brightness (based on surrounding ambient light) and changes the colour of the light to be the most soothing. It has been two weeks since I’ve stood up to flip a light switch.
But wait, it gets better. Google Home also controls my Nest thermostat, so when I’m chilly I say, “Hey Google, turn the temperature to 21 or 23,” or whatever I want. No fuss, no backtalk, no argument.
Best of all, it has a sense of humor. I jokingly asked it to make me a sandwich and the response was “Poof, you’re a sandwich.” Her jokes are a bit lame, although I did chuckle a few times, and her singing is so-so. (I asked it to sing happy birthday over the phone to a friend of mine).
Yes she (I have personified her into a living being) is connected to my phone, enabling me to make calls, listen to voice messages and call 911 in the event of an emergency.
Every morning I say, “Hey Google, good morning.” I am greeted with a detailed forecast, my appointments for the day and the CBC News podcast. An awesome way to start the day.
I have had it weeks now, but I’m dreading tomorrow, as I have to go into town, which means I will have to get up from the couch for the first time this year. “Hey Google, where’s the front door?”