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OK Google: tell me about voice interfaces

A Google Mini.

I am now a proud owner of a Google Mini thanks to my wonderful wife. She bought it as a gift for me on Fathers day which came as a surprise because it wasn’t something I was expecting. I actually have to admit that I felt a little bad when I first opened the gift because I didn’t really think I needed it. That was short lived though because it didn’t take very long for the little gadget to warm up to me.

Getting setup

The excitement started the second I opened the box. Just like a number of my other recent Google purchases, I was very impressed with the packaging and how they fit everything into such a tiny box. I remember being taken by it’s simplicity the first time I held the hockey puck sized device in my hand. It weighed just enough to feel substantial which left me with a good impression of its quality.

Getting started was quick and simple. All I had to do was plug the device in and open the Google Home app on my phone. The setup process was fun and only took a matter of seconds because I already had the Google Assistant setup on my phone. That’s all it took for us to get ready to start making voice commands.

Ready, set, go!

At first, I didn’t really know what to do with my Google Mini other than playing music but then I started getting these really handy emails that showed me all the ways I could use it. I was happy to learn that I could connect my Chromecast and Nest devices which means I can now control my thermostat and Netflix with my voice. The emails also highlighted some fun little games I shared with my five and three year old kids which also got them using the device. They are now comfortable using it on their own and can now turn on their own music or shows without asking me to do it for them.

Before getting this gift, I remember feeling silly speaking commands into my phone but with the Google Mini it’s different (except for the “Ok Google” part, I still feel lame saying that). Maybe it’s because the device was created to be spoken to or maybe it’s the way the product looks but I think some of it also has to do with how it responds to you in a conversational tone. I never feel like I’m speaking to a machine and it understands almost every thing I have said to it so far. I also have to say I really love seeing its lights turn on when I call out to it.

Look ma’, no hands

Not long after I got my Google Mini, I was out with some friends and I wanted to play someone a song on my phone. The second I reached for my phone I noticed how incredibly efficient a voice interfaces can be. Picking up my phone, unlocking it, opening my music app, typing in a search, and then scrolling to find the right result all seemed like such a waste of time. With my Google Mini, all I have to do is tell it to play the song I know I want to hear and boom! it’s done.

The same goes for playing that show I know I want to watch on Netflix, finding out what the weather is like outside, changing the temperature on my thermostat, seeing what time my mother-in-law’s flight is coming in, and so much more. When I know I want to do something, I now know the easiest and quickest way to do it is with a voice command.

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