Google don't do things by halves. Last year, when they first announced their new Google Home technology suite in Shoreditch, they transformed a dusty warehouse into a multi-screen theatre, live streaming to a conference at the brand's California base.
Today, Google Home becomes available in the UK for the first time. To mark the occasion, the software-turned-hardware hardballers converted a Bermondsey studio into a 'Googlified' townhouse, in which to show their wares in action.
Outside London's 'Google Home'
In the fabricated living room, the cone-shaped, conversational speaker sits pride of place. Demonstrations from Googlers show it to be all we might expect from an artificial assistant. Simply say, 'Ok Google' and it can update your shopping list, turn the volume down on your TV, or read you the latest Wallpaper* headlines.
A year ago, we might have been impressed by this. But we've seen an influx of butler-bots of late, and the question on everyone's lips is: how is Google Home different from Alexa (Amazon's AI administrator launched back in 2014)? Technically speaking, there's not a great deal between them. They're both terrifyingly intelligent.
Google Home's touch-sensitive volume controls
Google disciples will argue Home is much more sensitive and intuitive than other versions of AI on the market. Indeed, some Google-only features seem genuinely useful and exciting. Home remembers more than any other bot, contextualising your requests in line with your habits. Ask it to say 'Hello' in Japanese, and it will say 'kon'nichiwa'. Ask it to say 'Goodbye' a few minutes later, and it will remember what language you're learning, and chirp 'sayōnara'.
Home looks better than Alexa, too. If you like the unfussy, clean-white Google Pixel (launched to great acclaim last year), you'll love Google Home. The colourful touch volume control on top is seriously satisfying, and a lot less fiddly than it looks. Likewise, the vibrant colour-coded cases come in your choice of fabric or metal, helping to make the device seem less like an alien hunk of tech, more a stylish table-top object d'art.
No matter how many swathes of purple fabric or copper plating you cover it in, there's no disguising that this technology is seriously smart. It's been 18 years in the making, and will only continue to rise the ranks of cleverness. The more you use it, the more intuitive it will become.