Google takes on Echo Dot with cheaper Home Mini speaker

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Google Home Mini
Google Home Mini launches this month.
Photo: Google

Getting acquainted with the powerful Google Assistant is now more affordable than ever before, thanks to the new Home Mini speaker.

It has all the power of the regular Google Home, but it’s smaller and much more affordable to take on devices like the Echo Dot. You can pre-order yours today ahead of its official launch on October 17.

Home Mini is a circular speaker that’s smaller than a doughnut, Google says. Its enclosure is made almost entirely out of fabric that’s durable and soft, yet transparent enough to let in light and voice commands. It has a 360-degree speaker that promises high-quality sound.

Home Mini is controlled by touch, and it has four LED lights on its top that let you know when it’s working. It offers all the features you expect from the standard Google Home speaker — including all the improvements Google announced today.

Home now knows your voice

One of them is called Voice Match, and it’s perhaps the Google Assistant’s most impressive feature yet. It builds a model of your voice so it knows exactly who’s talking, then answers your queries and responds to your commands to suit you.

For instance, if you ask Home to place a call, it distinguishes between your contacts and those of other users to find the right person. It also recognizes which reminders and calendars to reference, based on who makes a request.

This is incredibly useful in a family setting, where multiple people share one Home speaker. And it’s made possible by training the Google Assistant with over 50 million voice samples recorded in all kinds of ambient settings.

Hands-free calling is smarter

You can now link your Home speaker to your mobile number, so that the person you’re calling knows who you are before they answer. And if you live in the U.K., you’ll be able to enjoy hands-free calling, too, later this year.

Home Mini launches this month

Home Mini is priced at just $49, and you can pre-order yours today in coral, chalk, or charcoal color options. It’s available in all seven countries where Home is already on sale.