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Google unveils Home Mini smart speaker for $49 to challenge Amazon’s Echo Dot

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Google today unveiled the Google Home Mini, a smaller version of its flagship smart speaker. The device will retail for $49. Preorders begin today and go on sale in stores October 19.

Home Mini will come in coral, chalk, and charcoal. Like Home, the new Home Mini will come with a set of colorful LEDs atop the device that light up after you say “Hey Google” that let you know Google Assistant is listening and waiting to hear a command.

“Give the fabric a quick tap to pause music, change volume, or talk to assistant,” said lead designer for home hardware Isabelle Olsson.

Home Mini will be available in the U.S. as well as United Kingdom, Japan, Canada, Germany, France, and Australia.

And like other devices from Google or those using the Google Assistant SDK, Home Mini will be able to do a broad range of things, such as tell you about your calendar events, share news, play music, order products from major retailers, and access hundreds of conversation action voice apps made by third-party developers.

The speaker made its debut at Google’s biggest hardware event of the year held today at the SFJazz Center in San Francisco.

A smaller smart speaker gives Google footing to compete with the Echo Dot, Amazon’s cheapest and best-selling Echo products. Few details on the actual number of devices sold have been shared, but during Prime Day this summer Amazon said the Echo Dot was the best-selling product.

The Home Mini comes a week after Amazon released six new devices for its Echo line of smart speakers, including the Echo Spot, second-generation Amazon Echo, Echo Connect, and Echo Buttons.

While the brand name of a smart speaker like Apple and Amazon and Google matter to people, price trumps all. According to a survey from Morning Consult, price is the most important factor for consumers shopping for smart speakers.

Plenty of news about the device leaked before an announcement was made onstage today. Walmart began listing the Home Mini for sale for $24 on its website yesterday via Google Express, reports 9to5Google, and multiple outlets reported details and shared photos of the Home Mini in weeks ahead of the hardware event.

At an event held at the same time last year, Google brought the Pixel and Pixel XL smartphones, Daydream VR headset, Google Wifi, and Google Chromecast 4K Ultra, and announced plans to launch the Actions on Google platform for third-party developers to create voice apps for Google Assistant.

While Google Home Mini is only Google’s second smart speaker with Google Assistant inside, it is by no means the only one. Home Mini joins a family of devices that can talk with Google. Earlier this year, speakers from Panasonic, Sony, and other device makers made their debut with Google Assistant.

Since the arrival of Google Home late last year, Google Assistant has expanded to washing machines, General Electric appliances, and Mercedes-Benz vehicles, and is widely expected to be extended today for the first time to a notebook, the Pixelbook. The Google Assistant iOS app was made available in May.

More to follow.

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