Google’s smart speakers can now take incoming calls, but probably not...

Smart speakers activated with the Google Assistant have been able to make calls in countries such as Australia, Canada and the USA for some time. However, functionality was limited to outgoing calls made by the speaker himself. Now it looks like inbound call support will be available on Google’s smart home products, but only with a single carrier in Australia.

Telstra customers in Australia will be notified that they can now receive incoming calls through Google Assistant speakers and smart displays linked to their mobile number. The Google devices announce the name or number of the incoming caller and the call can be answered or declined with a voice command or a tap of the finger. Each Telstra number can be paired with up to ten Google Smart Home devices to call functions. All connected devices ring when a call comes in. It even works if the phone itself is dead or turned off.

While this is a super cool feature that makes Google’s smart home devices even more helpful, I think this idea is better in theory than it is in reality. It sounds annoying when every Google Home and Nest speaker or smart display rings every time someone calls me. What’s worse is that anyone nearby can answer or decline the call.

I can imagine important incoming calls being rejected by other household members who are put off by the loud ringing before the intended recipient can answer. Telstra and Google state that any linked device will ring even if the recipient is away from home. So this only seems feasible if you live alone or trust everyone at home with all of your phone calls. (Seems like a feature that Google’s presence detection technology could do well, right?)

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