Google Home has partnered with Disney to provide sound effects and music for a select number of Golden Books. To add sound effects to storytelling, the reader must say “Hey Google, let’s read along with Disney,” before beginning. If the reader skips a part, Google Home will follow, and if the reader takes a break, Google will play ambient music.
Compatible books include newer titles like Moana and Coco as well as classics like Peter Pan and Alice in Wonderland. More books will be added by the end of the year, according to the Google blog. They also plan to integrate this storytelling technology into more smart speakers and Smart Displays.
Google Home also provides Disney-branded activities for kids like the “Mickey Mouse Magic Show.” Using their voices, children can help Mickey Mouse get to his magic show on time in a “choose your own adventure” style game. Other games include Star Wars trivia, a Toy Story freeze dance, and a Beauty and the Beast mystery. To give kids access to Google Assistant, parents can use the Family Link app. Through the app, they’ll be able to block certain apps, monitor screen time, and set a bedtime for devices.
Google Competes with Amazon in Books
Google isn’t the only tech giant that has invested in read-along effects. Through it’s Alexa fund, Amazon has invested in Novel Effect, a company that provides voice interactive storytelling to accompany children’s books. Amazon encountered Novel Effect at their annual Alexa Accelerator in 2017.
“Their platform is a great example of how voice technology can augment and improve offline experiences, and we think customers are going to love using it,”
said Paul Bernard, Director of the Alexa Fund. In addition to music and sound effects, Novel Effect includes character voices and has over 150 audio “soundscapes” for children 12 and under. Currently, Novel Effect is only available for iPhones and iPads, but it’s working on integrations with Android and Alexa.
In the past, Google has faced trouble for its apps targeted for children. At the beginning of the year, they had to delete about 60 apps after a bug scattered them with pornographic ads. Users downloaded apps with malicious code “AdultSwine” somewhere between three and seven million times. In response, Google removed the apps from the Google Play store and disabled the developers’ accounts. They also recommended that Android users download Google Play Protect which scans for possible security threats.
Given cybersecurity issues on devices, it will be interesting to see how large companies like Google and Amazon continue to cater to children.