Google announced today that it has partnered with Disney, to make story time even better with the Google Home. Google Home could already read books to your child for you, but now when you are reading to your child, it will make sound effects and music to give you some more context. It's definitely not a big feature, at least on paper, but when you are reading a story that Google Home knows, adding in some sound effects and music can definitely make a huge difference. To get started, all you need to do is say "Hey Google, let's read along with Disney", and Google Home will know to use the Disney app and listen to your reading so it knows when to play these sound effects and music. Right now, select Little Golden Books will work, as well as a few Disney titles like Moana and Coco.
Google says, in its blog post, that they "wanted to reflect the way families actually read, so if you skip ahead in the book, Google Home will recognize that change and adjust to match the story." On top of that, if you pause while reading the book, Google Home will begin playing ambient music until you start reading again. This is because Google knows how kids like to chime in during storytime, asking questions and such. Besides Moana and Coco, other titles that are available include Toy Story 3, Jack Jack Attack, Peter Pan, Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland, The Three Little Pigs, Mickey Mouse and many others. Google is planning to add additional books before the end of the year. There is also a holiday title included here, Mickey's Christmas Carol, seeing as Christmas is right around the corner, it is time for some Christmas stories.
Background: Disney has been working with Google on the Google Home and Assistant quite a bit lately. Offering some pretty cool partnerships. Not only are there some great Disney games available on Google Home that you can play, but it also made a new stand for the Google Home Mini to make it look like Mickey Mouse. Though that also included OtterBox who actually made the stand. But nonetheless, Disney is bringing a ton of content and products over to Google Home and Google Assistant, which is definitely good to see, especially as these voice assistants are starting to take over our world. Google Assistant has been focusing more on features outside of smart home stuff, while Amazon Alexa is mostly focused on Audio and Smart Home control. That is making the Google Assistant the better well-rounded voice assistant for mostly everyone out there right now, and that's a pretty big deal. It'll be interesting to see what Google is able to do with Assistant in the next year or even few years.
This feature from Google and Disney may seem pretty small, but it did definitely take a lot of work to add to the Google Assistant. Seeing as Google Assistant needed to know what's happening in each of these stories so that it can play the appropriate sound effects and music. And this needed to be done for each story that Google and Disney are making part of this feature. That also explains why it is not available for all of the titles from Disney and Little Golden Books, right off of the bat. But Google and Disney are working to add more, and saying that more will be coming before the end of the year, is a pretty big deal, considering it's nearly November already. And the good thing here is that it works with not only a parent reading the book, but also the child reading it. Which means that Google had to improve its speech recognition for kids under the age of 13, which may not have the best English speaking skills and may also be slow readers (in fact, they likely will be slow readers, depending on how young they are). But this feature works nearly flawlessly, which is really going to open up the Google Assistant for a number of other features that it can do.
Impact: According to the blog post, the Google Home Mini will be found beside a number of books that are compatible with this new feature in Google Assistant, at retailers like Walmart, Target and Barnes & Noble. So that if you don't have any books that are compatible with this new feature, then you can pick some up at your local store. Remember, Google Home already has a bunch of other Disney games included, that you can play your friends and even your kids. Unfortunately, this feature is not available for all of the Google Assistant-enabled speakers and smart displays out there right now – only the "Google Home" family of products – but Google says that more will be supported before the end of the world. That includes the Lenovo Smart Display, the Sony LF-S50G and many more.
Those that want to allow their kids to read these books and get the sound effects and music as they are reading, can set that up through Family Link on the Google Home, allowing them to read along and have the same experience. For kids under 13, you will need to set it up through Family Link, and then link the account and voice to the Google Home. This is because those under 13 years of age aren't supposed to have a Google account, so some things here need to be changed – or worked around – to make this work. This is a really great feature to take advantage of, especially with the holidays coming up. When you are busy cooking for the holidays and need to keep your kids occupied, just have them read some books with the Google Home, and they'll stay out of your hair. And the best part is that you don't need to install anything on the Google Home – like you would with Amazon Alexa. So you can just simply tell the Assistant to read along with Disney and you are good to go.