11 surprising things Google Home can’t yet do – CNET

 In Technology

While the Google Home smart speaker can hold its own in many rights, when compared to the Echo, Echo Dot or Amazon Tap, it understandably falls short. The brains of Amazon’s speakers, the virtual assistant Alexa, has been learning and developing for more than two years now, while Google’s version, Assistant, is still very new.

If Google ever wants to compete squarely with Amazon’s smart speaker, it will have to add new features. Here’s 11 things the Google Home could add that would catch it up.

Buy Google products

Unlike Amazon, whose primary goal with its hardware is to make it easier to buy stuff from its online store, Google makes hardware to push its services (Gmail, Play Music, YouTube and so on), to learn more about its users and to better serve ads.

Photo by James Martin/CNET

Still, it’s surprising that Google didn’t let the Google Home buy Google-branded products out of the gate. The Home is only made better and more functional with a Chromecast on every TV and speaker you own. But asking it to order you a Chromecast just results in a canned response: “Sorry, I’m not sure how to help.”

Play controls on Chromecast

Using Google Home, you can throw music and videos to any TV that has a Chromecast plugged in. Once the video is playing, however, you can’t use it to control what’s playing. You can’t play, pause, skip or control volume.

You’ll have to reach for your TV remote or your phone instead.

Throw Netflix or other videos on the TV

For now, while you can tell the Google Home to play music from any of the supported music streaming services on a Chromecast device, you can only throw videos from YouTube to a TV.

Support for Netflix and other streaming apps is said to be coming in the future. In fact, the Netflix support page for Google Home help is already live, but there’s no official word on when you’ll be able to connect your Netflix account in the Google Home app.

Also, while you can listen to podcasts on the Google Home speaker itself, you can’t tell it to play a podcast on a TV or speaker connected to a Chromecast device.

Track packages

Google Now has had the ability to cherry-pick tracking numbers and travel info from your email for years now. Google Assistant can do the same with flight information. But for some reason, you can’t get any information on packages from Google Home.

Sleep timer

While it’s understandable that some features are missing from the Home at launch, it’s kind of surprising that a smart speaker shipped without a sleep timer.

You can say, “OK Google, set a sleep timer for 30 minutes.” The speaker will respond in the affirmative, stating that it’s set a timer for 30 minutes, named Sleep. Not exactly helpful.

Hopefully, this is a feature that gets addressed in an upcoming update.

Photo by Taylor Martin/CNET

Take notes or voice memos

Still a shortcoming of the Alexa speakers is the inability to make notes using dictation or store voice memos.

Likewise, you can’t create notes or memos with the Google Home either. This is odd, considering Google has integrated its Keep shopping list app with Assistant.

The functionality is there and it seems like note-taking wouldn’t be very difficult for Google to implement. Yet, if you say, “OK Google, add a new note,” it responds with “Sorry, I can’t take notes yet.”

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