You may recall that, about eight weeks ago, I bought and reviewed the Google Nest Mini. One of the prerequisites of listening to music from Youtube on these devices is that, unfortunately, you need to pay for the Youtube Music premium plan – at £9.99 a month.
To be honest, I’m not begrudging these additional costs too much. Google has introduced me to songs that have rapidly become favourites of mine (Camila Cabello’s “Liar” definitely becoming one of them!) and even when the song has finished, having Google keep the party going is definitely much better than silence (or worse, the repeated song). To me, I hardly ever drink, I don’t smoke, I have no involvement whatsoever with narcotics and I don’t eat that much junk food – so pardon me if I treat my ears to some good sounds, will you?
About a fortnight ago, I had an email in my inbox with the title “Don’t forget to claim your free Google Nest Mini”. I was suspicious at first, as anyone aware of phoney emails would be. I’m pretty keyed up and I can usually sniff out a scam, so I did some rooting around to try and find something, anything that was off about this seemingly too-good-to-be-true offer. I came up blank.
There had to be something, so I used Google to Google Google’s offer. Oh, the irony.
Nope, Google really, really were giving away free Google Nest Mini’s to Youtube Music premium users, and I was free to claim one if I wanted to, so long as I ordered it by the end of the month.
With the Second Edition Mini, you have two colour choices, charcoal (black) or chalk (white). Because of my oh-so-sexy monochromatic bedroom, we have a charcoal one in the bedroom, and a chalk one in the lounge. As our kitchen has a similar neutral feel to the lounge, I opted for another chalk one, checked out the product with an oh so generous discount of £49 and a total bill of £0.00, and waited.
Last week, I received a rather strange looking box, Now not much phases me, but I’ve never seen a box with wings before. That was definitely novel.
When I pulled back the strip and opened the box, I was introduced to Google and asked to recycle the packaging. Lo and behold, my new Google Nest Mini had arrived.
Setting up the new Mini was simple enough and the new speaker is now housed on top of the dishwasher. My initial plan was mount it to the wall but, with sockets the way they are in our kitchen, it was actually easiest to place it atop the tabletop dishwasher and plug it into the extension on the windowsill. With that done, my dearly beloved took over the software side of things and the “Kitchen Speaker” is now fully installed.
One of the advantages of having a speaker in the kitchen is that I don’t have to shout across the lounge to turn the kitchen light on. A quiet mumble in the generalised direction of the dishwasher will generally work. It’s an advantage for me and saving my voice, and an advantage for anyone watching TV in the lounge at the time.
A second advantage I’ve found has been in ordering groceries. Thanks to the the IFTTT app, I have been able to add groceries to my basket, using my voice. When I’m waltzing around my kitchen and I’ve noticed that I’m running low on an ingredient, I can generally ask Google to add an ingredient to my basket, and have the job done in 2-3 minutes. In amongst all of the indefinite tasks that come with running a home (even for two people and a dog), there are definite perks to that.
A third advantage comes in being able to ask Google for guidance on recipes. With starting the new year with a bang and trying to eat a lot healthier, being able to ask Google for inspiration and a talk-through of recipes has saved me from having to go between cooking and getting messy fingerprints on (and off of) my phone. A simple “Okay Google, what’s next?” will have Google chirpily talk me through the next step of my new found recipe.
The last (and final) plus comes in being able to wirelessly link my speakers, which makes playing my ‘Housework’ playlist (more or less) throughout the flat oh so much fun. I’m not rushing back into one room to be close to the speaker to enjoy the music. With a speaker in the three main rooms of my home, I’m able to enjoy my favourite tracks effortlessly while I work. A definite plus one for getting more work done.
On the not so good side of things, sometimes Google can’t tell the difference between ‘off’ and ‘on’. “Okay Google, turn the office light off” I’ll say, hoping that Google will turn the bedroom (also my home office) main light off, but leaving the headboard lights and desk lamp on. “Sure, turning office light on” she replies. Result? The bedroom main light stays on when it’s time to clock off and unwind. She’s good, but she’s not perfect.
On other occasions, I’m greeted with a “Sorry, I couldn’t reach Philips Hue”, prompting me to override the switch (a simple off/on at the wall) and turn the lights on myself. I also do this when I’m already in a room, and forgot to ask Google to turn the lights on. By now the novelty factor of being able to control the lights with Google has quickly worn off. Fortunately, the Philips Hue lightbulbs are rather energy efficient.
In terms of getting others to embrace Technology, my family is having none of it. My mother is very wary of these devices and is vehemently against having one in her home,
“Yeah, but they reckon they listen in on you, don’t they?” she said with great suspicion.
I suppose it’s another of those generation gaps, the modern smart technology, combined with a generation that saw the introduction of Ceefax, colour television and the internet.
Just as for my mother’s generation, then speakers that listen to you and control your home may well seem scary. Formy generation, then I suppose a time where our kids are forcing us to be comfortable with driverless buses and robotic baristas will come.