When Google Home first arrived on the scene, Mike and Ashley speculated on the Smart Kitchen Show about how it would stack up against Amazon Echo. Amazon’s big entrance into the smart home, Echo came with convenient functions like timers, grocery lists, playing on-demand streaming music and radio services and eventually included recipe skills. It was an ideal device to sit on your kitchen counter.
Google introduced its answer to Echo but at first lacked the functionality that Echo has grown to enjoy due to its open API and thousands of skills developed by third parties. One of those skill areas that’s seen growth is in food & beverage, especially recipes. But this week, Google partnered with big food content houses like the Food Network, New York Times and Bon Appetit to give Home users access to over 5,000 recipes that can be read step by step by the Google Assistant.
The interesting thing about Google Home’s announcement is the way Google is adding functionality to its device. Amazon’s Alexa relies on skills developed by other companies -- in order to get access to Allrecipes content, for example, you have to enable that skill in your app before you can use it.
Google takes a different approach; if you have a specific recipe you want to look up, you can head to the Google Assistant app on your phone, pick it out and send it to Google Home to walk through. So a component of this feature still involves your phone -- unless you want suggested recipes, and then you can just ask “Ok Google, let’s make spaghetti” and Google’s Assistant will suggest a recipe for you. That suggestion feature, enabled without any input on the part of the user, is fairly unique.
The process is a little more intuitive and baked into the platform than Alexa skills, which sometimes can be clunky depending on how the developer choose to integrate. Some skills require you to say “Alexa, ask (brand/company) to XYZ” which is an awkward way to speak and harder to remember.
Google also choose powerhouse brands to partner with for this integration -- collectively, Food Network, NYT and Bon Appetit have amassed loads of food content through the years and probably have recipes for just about anything you’d want to cook. In fact, these and other publication and content houses are constantly thinking about how to leverage their digital warehouses of recipes and food knowledge and partnerships like these are easy ways to make money outside of traditional advertising.
According to Google, the feature will start rolling out in the coming days. We’ll finally be able to say -- Ok Google, let’s eat.