Google Assistant wants to be everywhere you are in 2018

From Engadget - January 8, 2018

"We think Assistant is more useful if it's available across all devices and contexts," said Scott Huffman, Google's VP of Engineering in charge of Google Assistant. "It's not just phones or speakers or laptops; it's all kinds of things." To that end, Google is focusing on incorporating Assistant in three major categories at CES: the home, the car and mobile -- which, in the case of the latter, means smarter pairs of earbuds.

Perhaps the most notable of the three categories is the home, which is where Google is really giving Amazon a run for its money. A few days ago, it announced that it sold tens of millions of Google Home devices last year, with nearly 6.4 million of them sold in the last quarter alone. Now, at CES, it's expanding its portfolio of partners. According to Google, it's announcing even more Google Assistant-powered speakers from the likes of Altec Lansing, Anker Innovations, Bang & Olufsen, Braven, iHome, JBL, Jensen, LG, Klipsh, Knit Audio, Memorex, RIVA Audio and SoLIS.

Through partnerships with JBL, Lenovo, LG and Sony, Google is entering the smart display category, going right up against Amazon's Echo Show and Echo Spot. That means these devices are more than just smart speakers -- they have touch screens that let you make video calls, look up step-by-step recipes and, of course, watch YouTube videos (which, incidentally, you ca not do on any of the Echos).

"[The third-party devices] go through the same rigorous testing that we do on our own devices," said Chris Turkstra, a director for Google Assistant. When asked if he was afraid the third-party devices would cannibalize the sales of Google's own Home and Home Mini products, he said that the goal here is to get more diverse products. "What we want is to create an ecosystem," he said. "Google products will still get features and updates earlier than others, and they will be able to compete more directly with Amazon's products as well." But, he continued, partner products will offer a far wider variety of hardware than Google alone can offer.

Next up are TVs. Sure, Google Assistant is already on NVIDIA's SHIELD TV as well as Sony's Android TVs, but why stop there? The company announced today that Assistant will roll out to even more Android TVs from the likes of TCL, Skyworth and Xiaomi. More Android TVs from Changhong, Element, Funai, Haier, Hisense and Westinghouse will also debut this week with Google Assistant on board. And, not to be left out, LG will also be rolling out several Assistant-integrated TVs later this year.

As for cars, Google Assistant will be coming to automobiles in the way that makes the most sense: through Android Auto. Yes, Android Auto already has a voice interface, but it was kind of a vanilla experience. With Google Assistant, however, you can do a lot more. In addition to telling you the weather and reading out your text messages, you can also ask Assistant to control your Nest and bring up your playlists on Spotify. Basically, everything you can already do with Assistant on your phone, you will also be able to do with the Android Auto interface in the car.


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