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Google Takes on Amazon Echo With New Smart Home Hub

Google announced Wednesday a voice-activated home device, similar to Amazon Echo, to launch later this year.

The device syncs to a smartphone version called Assistant, and links to streaming device Chromecast and smart home brand Nest.

Mario Queiroz, Google's vice president of product management, showed off the small white conical object at Google's annual developer event. What sets the product apart, Queiroz said, is the device's direct link to all the capabilities of Google Search.

Google Home is a voice-activated home product that allows you and your family to get answers from Google, stream music, and manage everyday tasks. Google

"Home is where lots of daily tasks just need to get done," Queiroz said. "Access to the Google Assistant makes this a lot easier. It's like having a voice-activated remote control to the real world whenever you need it.

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CEO Sundar Pichai demonstrated a conversation with Google's new Assistant to an audience at Google's I/O conference Wednesday, highlighting what he called conversational capability far beyond what other assistants can do. The technology, similar to Apple's Siri, comes as 20 percent of mobile queries are voice queries, according to Pichai, CEO of Alphabet's Google division.

Google has spent years evolving search to be much more assistive and help people get things done in the "real world," Pichai said, training voice and photo recognition to be more precise. For instance, asking a phone "What's playing tonight?" should result not just in movie times, but personalized movie suggestions that can be discussed like a normal conversation, Pichai said.

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"It is truly the moment of mobile," Pichai. "We are pushing ourselves really hard so that Google is evolving and staying ahead of our users."