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Google Unveils Its $399 Home Max And $49 Home Mini Smart Speakers

Google's Echo competitors are powered by Google Assistant, a virtual, voice-activated bot.

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Google Home is a smart speaker powered by Google Assistant, a virtual, voice-activated bot. It’s the company’s Amazon Echo competitor (Apple’s Siri-powered HomePod is also coming soon) — and today, Google unveiled the new circular Home Mini, which is about the size of teacup saucer.

The top of the Home Mini enclosure is made out of a custom linen-like fabric, and has four LED lights underneath that indicate the Mini is listening. It has “360-degree” sound and can connect to Chromecast speakers and Chromecast Audio, like the existing Google Home.

The Mini retails for $49 in the US (the same price as Amazon's Echo Dot), making it more affordable than the larger $129 Google Home. Pre-order starts today. The Mini ships Oct. 19, and will be available in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, UK, and US in three colors: coral, chalk, and charcoal.

“Smart Sound,” which is powered by Google’s AI, tunes the speaker to optimize its sound balance for your particular room configuration. Over time, the speaker will learn to do things like raise the volume when your dishwasher is running.

It supports Spotify, Pandora, TuneIn, iHeart Radio, and Google Play Music, as well as external speakers connected by an auxiliary cable, Chromecast, or Bluetooth. Max also works with a multi-room set-up via Chromecast Audio. The speaker’s orientation can also be changed from horizontal to vertical.

Max will cost $399, and it'll be available in December in two colors: chalk and charcoal. The speaker will come with an ad-free subscription to YouTube Music for 12 months.

All three Home speakers include Voice Match, which identifies different individuals in the household, so it can serve personalized answers (like traffic, Spotify playlists from certain accounts, and calendars). Voice Match is now rolling out in all seven countries where Home is available.

Home is now more kid-friendly, too. It can understand the way kids talk better, and includes more kid-friendly games, like "Which fruit are you?". New commands include: “Hey Google, let’s learn", or "let’s play a game," or "tell me a story.” Google is also partnering with Disney to create kid-first experiences.

Still, most of the three speakers' capabilities — such as hands-free calling, which Google announced is now rolling out to the UK (it’s already available in the US) — are available in other smart speakers, like Amazon’s Echo.

Nicole Nguyen covers products and personal technology for BuzzFeed News and is based in San Francisco.

Contact Nicole Nguyen at nicole.nguyen@buzzfeed.com.

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