Google appears to be testing a new feature that allows users of its Google or Nest Home speakers to broadcast directly to a single speaker. That's based on recent reports citing the appearance of the feature for some Reddit users.
Google doesn't appear to have any new branding for the feature. Since it actually seems to work almost identically to the current command for broadcasting, most users should find it to be decidedly intuitive. That's worked by waking a smart speaker with the "Ok, Google" or "Hey Google" wake word. Then, users simply need to say "broadcast," followed immediately by the message.
Conversely, users can accomplish the same from a smartphone on the same network as the speakers.
Now, users are noting that they can tweak the command slightly. Users need to follow up on the broadcast command with the word "to" and then the name of a specific speaker. The words that are spoken after that only play over the individual speaker that's been chosen. That's as opposed to playing on every network-connected Google or Nest smart speaker.
Why is broadcasting to a single Nest or Google Home speaker a big deal?
The reason this is a big deal for fans of Google's brand of AI assistant is going to vary from person to person. But the most obvious of those is that this feature has already been available for users of the competition's devices. Amazon's Alexa platform has had similar device-to-device intercom features since at least 2017, for instance.
That's a fairly big discrepancy since single speaker broadcast features have been lacking over that period from Google and Nest Home speakers. Especially since multi-device broadcasting has been around on Google's devices for around the same timeframe.
For others, it's going to be a big deal because it makes communicating from one room or area of the house to another easier. As noted above, in its previous iteration, Home-branded gadgets only allowed multi-device broadcasting. But it's actually worse than that since any broadcast would send out to every connected speaker. So everybody within a given home would hear the message rather than a select group.
That becomes a problem when messages are meant to be more private or when turning on every speaker would be disruptive. With the new feature in place, those issues should be addressed.
This is just one of many small changes the company has made to improve the overall user experience.
This seems to be a fairly limited test run
A quick test of the new feature has shown that it isn't landing everywhere just yet. It appears to only be available in US English, for starters. But it also hasn't worked for either the source or Android Headlines just yet. That's using the same version number cited by Redditors.
The implication of that is that Google may be rolling the update out slowly. Conversely, it may be the case that this simply won't arrive for every user with this version number. Instead, Google may only be testing the feature in a limited capacity for now. The goal would be to sort out any bugs that crop up. Specifically, it may be intended to eliminate problems with the AI recognizing the difference between the old and newly-added commands.