Google Home is on its way to Australia

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Google Home is displayed during the presentation of new Google hardware in San Francisco, California, U.S. October 4, 2016. Reuters/Beck Diefenbach

Google's smart benchtop speaker is set to land in Australia later this year, challenging Amazon's Alexa. Google Home allows users to speak naturally to control smart home appliances, access online services and listen to music.

The voice-controlled technology is coming to Australia mid-year and to other countries as part of Google Home’s expansion plans, which the company announced at the Google I/O developer conference in Mountain View, California. Google Home runs the AI-powered Google Assistant.

Google Home is capable of recognising the voices of different users in the household. It can also deal with transactions, along with "proactive assistance," which will allow the speaker to alert users about significant matters like traffic congestion that requires earlier departure times and calendar appointments.

Australian pricing for Google Home is yet to be announced. It is expected to cost around $199 (including GST).

In the United States, Google Home users will soon be able to make free calls to landline and mobile numbers across the US and Canada. This feature is not likely to be available in Australia when Google Home launches this year.

Google Assistant, at the same time, is expanding beyond Google Home and Android smartphones to Apple's iPhone. It is also spreading its wings to smart home appliances like dishwashers, ovens and fridges.

Moreover, Google Assistant embraces the Internet of Things with its latest developer kit. It lets hardware makers connect any device to the internet and control it through the Google Assistant, which is turning out to be even more conversational according to Google Assistant VP of Engineering, Scott Huffman.

He assured the Assistant is always available and ready to assist in getting even more things done. Huffman said nearly 70 percent of requests to Google Assistant are being told in natural language instead of the usual keyboards which people type in a search box, adding several of them are follow ups that continue the conversation. “We're really starting to crack the hard computer science challenge of conversationality,” Sydney Morning Herald quotes him as saying.

Google also announced the addition of the free Spotify service, SoundCloud, and Deezer. Paid Spotify has been previously made available in the country.

The news of Google Home’s arrival to Australia comes as rival Amazon expands its operations in the country, which includes a local release of its similar Echo. Powered by Amazon Alexa smart voice assistant, it helps users shop more easily from their kitchen.

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