In particular, the ebook world is wondering whether the Google Home will be able to read ebooks:
Of course, the thing that most concerns us about Amazon’s Echo, and that would seem to concern us about Google Home, is how well it does with e-books and audiobooks. The Echo can play Audible books and read Kindle books aloud; will Google Home do the same for Google Play books? The answer isn’t clear right now. None of the news sources I’ve been able to find mention e-books or audiobooks at all (and I missed seeing the portion of Google I/O where it was demonstrated, so I don’t know if there’s a mention there), but there’s no reason why it shouldn’t. The Google Play Books Android app can read e-books aloud, after all.
The answer is no – or at the very least, not right now, and possibly not ever.
Today’s event was more of a teaser than a launch, an announcement, or release, but we have learned enough to strongly doubt the possibility that Home can read ebooks.
For one thing, ebooks were noticeably absent from the presentation (music, yes; ebooks, no):
Furthermore, The Verge quotes Google reps as saying that Google Home will do less than the Echo, and do it better. Google is especially touting the AI.
Google Home will be shipping with a new virtual assistant (dubbed “Assistant”- how original!) which is supposed to be capable of starting a “two-way natural language conversation to figure out what you’re asking”.
Google Assistant is launching today, and they’ve posted this video. Tell me if it sounds familiar.
Google Now is much more focused on a question-response loop, just like you would expect from a search engine company, and all the reports suggest that Google Assistant has inherited that focus.
So while it is really too early to make any statements, we can look Google’s past and draw the conclusion that the Google Home won’t be reading to us any time soon.