5 Big New Features Coming to Google Home

At Google I/O, the company introduced several new features that will expand the capabilities of not just Google Assistant, but other smart home devices connected to it and Google Home smart speakers. 

Credit: Google

(Image credit: Google)

Smarter Smart Displays

A new Interactive Canvas kit will combine touch and voice control to allow developers to create more interactive experiences for smart displays. An example shown at Google I/O was an HQ Trivia game, which lets you tap the screen to select the correct answer. Interactive Canvas, which will also work on Android devices, will use HTML, CSS and Javascript. The games template is available today, with more formats to come. This is an area where smart displays in general are still lacking; there's not all that much interactivity, which is perhaps one of the reasons they've been slower to catch on than other smart speakers.

Local Home Control

Currently, when you send a command using Google Assistant to a smart home devices via a Google Home smart speaker, it must be relayed into the cloud from the smart speaker and then back down to the device. A new Local Home SDK will allow those devices to communicate directly with a Google Home speaker, which will permit faster reaction speeds, though it's not clear if it will work if your Internet connection goes down entirely. This SDK is being tested with Philips Hue, WeMo, TP-Link, LIFX, and others, and will be available for all developers in June.

Faster Setup

Used first with the C by GE smart lights, Google is expanding a faster setup process with other Google Assistant-compatible smart home devices. This should streamline the time it takes to connect a smart home gadget, such as a smart light, to a Google Home smart speaker.

Control More Stuff

Google is adding 16 more device types to its smart home SDK, bringing the total number to 38. Some of these new device types include security systems, garage doors, and locks. It's also adding three new traits, including Lock/Unlock, Arm/Disarm, and Timer, which seems to indicate that consumers will be able to have greater control over smart locks as well as security systems using Google Assistant.

Google Assistant in more devices

Lastly, using the Local Home SDK will let developers build Google Assistant into more devices by offloading the processing using Google Assistant Connect. Google has been working with Anker, Leviton, and Tile, but won't really show off this feature until later this year. This is another area where Amazon has also held an advantage over Google, as companies have built Alexa into a range of smart home devices, including smart light switches and smart thermostats

Be sure to check out all of Tom's Guide's coverage of Google I/O 2019.