Google Home can now stream to Bluetooth devices and connect to free Spotify accounts

If you thought Google would sit around and wait for competitors like Spotify, Apple and Amazon to carve up the multimedia market one way or the other, think again. The web giant is constantly improving and restructuring its offers, services and platforms and the intentions and plans are finally starting to shine through big time.

Google Home might have been a bit tardy to the new home automation/multimedia hub party kicked off (in a way) by the Amazon Echo, but it is quickly catching up. Besides the companys own Play Music service and Spotify Premium, to name a few, Google Home now supports free Spotify accounts as well – something Amazon’s friendly Alexa can’t really offer it’s users yet. So, it’s definitely game on!

If you are a Google Home user, you can test the feature for yourself. It works just like Google Play Music Free and the Pandora implementation on the device: You ask for a song, artist, album or even a genre, mood or activity and Spotify can hook you up with a shuffled selection of music inspired by that request. Of course, ads are mixed in there as well, but that’s just Spotify’s business model.

The other major new feature Google Home can finally offer and tick off the Amazon Echo comparison list is streaming to other Bluetooth devices. This has been in the product road map for some time now and Google is finally starting to deliver on its promise. Some Home users are reporting the new feature in the settings menu of the Google Home app, labled “paired Bluetooth devices”. It is pretty self-explanatory and a great way to push your home audio setup into the trendy IoT realm.

Google Home Bluetooth streaming support
Google Home Bluetooth streaming support
Google Home Bluetooth streaming support

Google Home Bluetooth streaming support

A few side notes though. Support seems to be rolling out in stages and you will require at least firmware version 93937 on your Google Home for it to work. Also, some users have been reporting laggy audio in this initial version. But we are more than certain Google will iron that out ASAP.

Like we said, the puzzle pieces are really starting to fall into place. Google’s is clearly putting some extra effort into “freemium” services, which could easily sway some users away from the competition in what is still a very young and dynamic market niche. That, however, raises a few interesting questions. Primarely, how exactly is this odd smart home/automation/multimedia market even going to evolve and interact with users. In its current cloud-based shape, it seems the quality and interoperability of services trumps all other factors, features and concerns. Hardware might very well be irrelevant and completely interchangeable soon. A little hacking and you can pretty much get Amazon’s Alexa to communicate with Google’s Assistant service. Third-party Alexa-compatible devices are becoming common place as well.

So if the future is indeed a colud service battlefield in the making, Google is definitely doing something right with its platforms. YouTube Red might still be in its infancy and pretty limited in reach, but its YouTube Music arm is more profitable to recording artists that any of its alternatives. The bold statement actually comes from the division’s head – Lyor Cohen. He claims YouTube Music currently has a chart-topping royalty rate of over $3 per thousand ad-supported streams in the US. He also stated that YouTube’s ads have generated over $1 billion for the music industry in the past 12 months.

And the plot could thicken further if Google Play Music and YouTube Music merge into a single platform – a rumor that has been floating around for some time now. The aftermath could be huge for the entire music industry, not to mention the end user market. Even as it is, thanks to its new Content ID system, YouTube is a able to identify an artist’s music with near perfect accuracy and pay out due royalties, regardless of the uploader and source of the content.

We might have gotten a bit sidetracked there, but this is clearly a much broader topic to discuss. So, what are your two cents on the matter? Have you chosen sides yet or do you think it’s too early to commit to any single technology right on the brink of the IoT revolution? Tell us in the comments.

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