When Google Home launches in Canada next Monday, it will mark the first foreign-language launch for the smart speaker, but the device won’t have all the frills available to American users.
Google Home has a new voice for the Canada launch and it speaks fluent French Canadian, company spokespeople assured media at a demo for the device conducted on Tuesday in Toronto. Google Assistant, the cloud-powered AI service connected to Home, already showed off its bilingual skills through the Google Allo chat app.
As with its other products, Google wanted to offer full bilingual support on Google Home before it launched in Canada.
Available in the U.S. since November, some Canadians have been putting Google Home to use after purchasing the unit south of the border. Despite not being officially supported, most of its functionality was already available and localization features worked well (see our story and our video at the bottom of this article).
It looks like official support for Google Home will be rolling out in Canada similar to the U.K. release in May. Google will be focusing on the primary services offered by the device and integrations for some key partners like Netflix and Samsung Smart Things, but other third-party services will have to wait.
“The U.S. feature set is a little bit ahead of the Canadian feature set, but that will catch up,” says Micah Collins, group product manager for Google Home. “Every time we launch a product to a new country, we want to make sure it meets a certain bar for user experience. Sometimes rolling out secondary services over time helps us meet that bar.”
Third-party services that were developed with Actions on Google won’t be available at launch in Canada. Also, that developer framework won’t be made available locally at the time of launch.
These services are analogous to apps on a smartphone, expanding the capability of Google Home with specialized content created by developers. Users access third party services by asking Google Home to “talk to” a service or to “ask” as service to do a specific function.
Also not available immediately at launch is multi-user support. In the U.S., Google Home has offered personalized services based on users’ voices for several weeks. Assistant can read of different calendars, or remember music and news preferences for different people in the same house by recognizing their voice.
Shopping is also coming at a later date. In the U.S., Google Express offers delivery of items like groceries, and it’s connected to the shopping lists that Google Home users update with their voice commands. That requires some work to set up in each country, Collins says.
But Canadians can expect that most typical use cases for Google Home will work just fine. From telling the weather, to playing media to Chromecast devices, to controlling smart home gear, it’s all ready to go – in French and English. Included in the integrations that will work at launch are Netflix (playback on Cast devices), Phillips Hue, Samsung Smart Things, and If This Than That.
Canadians wanting to match the Google Home unit to their home decor will have a couple of options at least at launch. The bottom base detaches from Google Home and can be swapped out for different colours. Home comes with a slate gray base, and Canadians will be able to buy a copper or cobalt base as well.
While you wait for Monday’s launch, be sure to watch our video on what Google Home is all about: