Google Home Mini – First Impressions

So I recently got a Google Home Mini free for having a paid subscription to Google One.

It is definitely kind of cool to just say something, and it gets done. Very handy for asking what today’s weather is, if it will rain tomorrow, etc. I will probably also (when I remember) use it to interact with my calendar, and add some local alarms/reminders.

Slightly less useful for me due to my location is anything related to Google Maps. There are so many businesses around Kyiv that just aren’t marked on the maps that me asking “Where is the nearest X” will probably take me to the 4th or 5th nearest. Similarly not many other map-related functions would be of use to me here unless I specifically know that a place is on Maps. But that is not so much Google’s fault as a quirk of where I live.

I’m still yet to see what the shopping list functionality is like, but I do want to try it. I currently use Trello or just my memory for things like that right now.

So for now it is most useful to me as a hands-free interface to Spotify, which I use almost every day, and usually for quite a few hours. Also useful that it acts as a speaker since I haven’t managed to get my Sonos Play:1 to connect to the wifi yet. Even though the sound quality is not comparable, the Home Mini’s sound is not too bad in my small apartment.

As far as the voice control goes it seems pretty responsive. It can sometimes even figure out what you meant if you say it a bit wrong! For example the first thing I asked it to play was “Autotheist by The Faceless”, but the album’s name is actually “Autotheism”, but it knew what I meant 😁

However it can’t quite handle some things pronounced a bit differently to what it expects, or without specific enunciation. When I asked it to play a band called “Motanka” it misunderstood me and played a funk playlist instead 😅 I had to ask it to stop, and then repeated what I wanted with a slightly more Australian pronunciation. Then when I asked for “King of Everything by Jinjer”, it thought I said “King of Everything by John” and couldn’t find it…. so I had to slow down my speech for it to understand me properly.

Sometimes you also have to be very specific what you ask for. Asking it to play “Micro by Jinjer” will get you just the song Micro – not the EP/album – so you have to ask for “the album Micro by Jinjer”. I’m sure I’ll find some more little quirks like this as I go.

But in conclusion would I pay AU$49 for it….?

Right now probably not, but maybe later when I have figured out a few more interesting features that are useful to me it might be worth that much to me.

However if I didn’t have the Sonos Play:1 I would definitely consider spending AU$99 on the larger Google Home instead, because the improved sound quality plus the voice control would be worth the price tag.