Courtesy of Google

From flight reservations to New York City pizza, Google Home has got it covered.

November 03, 2016

Frequent travelers are familiar with the last minute crunch of even the most meticulously planned trip. With changes in flight reservations, dinner cancelations and unexpected weather, no voyage can be perfectly orchestrated.

But the long awaited Google Home, powered by the Google Assistant, can help assuage at least some of those obstacles. The device serves as a voice-controlled helper to assist in daily tasks from setting timers to playing music on Spotify, to finding great beer in Wisconsin.

Google Home is designed to work best with Google's new phone, the Pixel, though it is compatible with iPhones and Android phones. After downloading the Google Home app and powering up the device, it guides users through a simple set-up to begin using.

Released today for a retail price of $129, the Home has already made it onto Adobe's list of gifts most likely to be top-sellers this season.

Beyond daily household tasks such as shopping lists and calendar reminders, Google Home can assist with all kinds of details involved in travel. In the time it took to clean my apartment, Google Home helped me prepare for a variety of situations I could encounter on the road.

Courtesy of Google

Checking a Flight Status

All commands to the Google Home must start with “OK, Google,” followed by the request. So to check on a flight, you'd say, “OK, Google, what's the status of my flight?” and it can offer up to date information on any delays or changes to flight reservations sent to your Gmail account.

Finding Restaurants

Attempting to stump my new robot friend, I asked Google Home the most divisive question I could think of: “Where is the best pizza in New York City?” After some insistence on Google's neutrality, the device offered up a few suggestions, including Emily in Brooklyn and Joe's in Manhattan. Not bad.

Weather

After putting in a home address, the device can give users weather updates for their hometown, as well as anywhere else they might be curious about. “Is it going to rain this weekend in Paris?” I asked.

Sadly, the answer was yes. But had I been packing for an imminent trip, it would have at least been helpfully disappointing news.

Courtesy of Google

Translation

When planning a trip internationally, Google Home can give users a jumpstart learning the language. While sitting in my kitchen in Brooklyn, I asked, “OK Google, how do you say ‘Will you marry me?’ in Portuguese?” I'm not sure how useful this phrase would be if I make it to Rio de Janeiro or Lisbon, but Google gave me the translation. (It's “Você quer se casar comigo,” in case you were wondering.)

Attractions

The choice of sites and museums can be limited as the Google Home learns from a user's preferences, but it can certainly get started on what to check out on an upcoming trip. To the question, “What is there to do in Ankara, Turkey?” Google returned a list of museums, markets and other popular spots.

Final thoughts

Google Home isn't perfect: There's its inability to answer follow-up questions (users must say “OK, Google” each time they ask it something different). But the overall experience was largely helpful and satisfying. It combines the practicality of basic tasks like flight information with the more whimsical tidbits that one can find with a more specific question.

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