Google's online store opens with sale of smart Home speakers

Here's a step-by-step guide on how to set up Google Home to listen to news and podcasts from The Straits Times. New subscribers who take up The Straits Times All-Digital package or All-Digital + Print package get a free Google Home Mini.

Shoppers here finally have official access to Google's online store, where consumers will be able to buy its products directly from the company.

The technology giant is also officially selling its line of smart speakers - the Google Home - to coincide with the store's launch here yesterday.

Google is the latest technology firm to set up a retail presence here, after Amazon and Apple moved into the country last year.

Singapore is the first country in South-east Asia to have an official Google Store, which was first available in the United States in 2015.

Google's vice-president and general manager of Home products Rishi Chandra said the launch of the store here serves as a starting point for expanding into South-east Asia.

He said: "It helps us with learning languages in the region... We use it as a baseline on how we can expand more broadly in South-east Asia."

The Home costs $189 here while the smaller Home Mini costs $79.

The smart speakers work using voice commands, and can perform a variety of tasks, such as play music through Spotify or read local news from The Straits Times.

It can also connect to other smart home devices, such as smart lights or smart televisions.

The Home is adjusted to understand local speech, places and objects, so users will be able to ask, "Where is the nearest kopitiam (coffee shop)?", with the Home providing addresses and directions.

It also supports features from local companies and agencies, such as OCBC Bank and national carrier Singapore Airlines.

Consumers can also buy the Home at selected bricks-and-mortar retailers: telco StarHub, Courts and Challenger.

Software engineer Randy Ho, 33, already owns four Google Homes but is looking to buy a Home Mini.

"This way, I can have coverage in my entire house, so in any room, I can ask it to play music, tell me about my day, set reminders and also control my connected lights and fans," he said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 19, 2018, with the headline 'Google's online store opens with sale of smart Home speakers'. Print Edition | Subscribe