Google's Mini Donut Shop Pop-Up in Chicago (and other cities)
Recently, you may have seen an event floating around your Facebook news feed entitled “The Google Home Mini Donut Shop – Chicago.” After a little investigating, I discovered that this is Google’s way of promoting their new “smart speakers,” a voice-activated electronic that can answer all your online Google inquiries, be an alarm clock or remote control, and a telephone. And (as if that isn’t enough), it’s smaller than a donut. This seems to be Google’s way of marrying its Internet services with innovative, technological product design. All over the country, Google has been hosting weekend pop-up giveaways where you can potentially go home with one of these little, yet multifunctional devices or an actual donut—a win-win situation if you ask me.
When I started looking into this product, I wondered how it was any different than similar electronics out there, such as the Amazon Echo that came out in early 2015. Last weekend, the Google Home Mini pop-up was in Austin, Texas. A friend of mine who lives there went twice in attempts to win a Home Mini, but left discouraged with local Voodoo donuts instead. I remember he texted me, “Third time’s the charm has to be a phrase for some reason, right?” He was not mistaken. My friend acquired a Home Mini after his third visit and, likely, I had a lot of questions about his new toy:
Q: What are the odds that you would have purchased a Home Mini if you hadn’t won one?
A: I already ordered two other ones for my apartment.
Q: Why would you need more than one?
A: I want one in every room so I can always talk to it. In my bedroom, I might tell it to play me quiet music, set an alarm for the morning, or ask what the weather is like when I wake up. In the bathroom, I could talk to it while I’m in the bath. In the living room, I’ll ask it for directions or to call me an Uber or entertain my guests.
Q: What is your favorite feature of the device?
A: It’s natural language processing is so much better than the Amazon Echo. It looks better than the echo. And it’s integrated with all of Google and my Google account, so it knows me better than the Echo.
While this is just one opinion, it seems that there are a lot of perks for having a device that connects to your Google information. However, with most new technology, there was a bit of controversy surrounding Google’s state of the art item after some users reported being recorded by Google without their agreement. According to Business Insider, one user “discovered that his Mini was listening in on him even when he hadn't pressed the device's button or said, ‘OK Google.’ When he checked his personal activity on Google, the site that shows users' interactions with the search giant's services and the data it collects on users, he found sound files that had been uploaded to Google's servers from the Mini without his consent. Google blamed the glitch on a faulty button in some of the units.” The malfunction has since been secured.
The Google Home Mini pop-up in Chicago will take place on Sunday, November 5th and Monday, November 6th from 10:00 AM - 6:00 PM. There is approximately a 50-50 chance of leaving with a Home Mini or a donut and Google suggests arriving early due to its popularity in other cities. The Home Minis are also on sale for $50.