Google has a ton of news to share at CES this year, and most of it revolves around the Google Assistant. The Assistant is getting new features (like conversational translation, boarding pass support, and improved auto reply) and is being built in to even more places (Dish’s Hopper DVR, Samsung TVs, and that long-awaited Sonos integration). You can catch up on all the news below.
Jan 10, 2019
It was on Android phones first, then it came to smart speakers, and now Google Assistant is compatible with everything from TVs to showers. In fact, Google’s voice assistant is now so popular that the company recently announced that it expects the feature to be installed on a billion devices soon.Read Article >
That number is 10 times bigger than the 100 million Alexa devices that Amazon recently announced have been sold. But Google is counting millions of Android phones where people may not actually be using Assistant. The bigger question is: what kinds of devices are coming with Assistant on board as a key feature? This week, we’ve seen a bunch of new ones.
Jan 9, 2019Read Article >
Our Vergecast CES 2019 coverage continues with part two of our roundup show. Dami Lee and Dan Seifert join Nilay and Dieter to discuss a range of gadgets from a laundry-folding robot to gaming PCs. There’s also some talk on the various new products and features with Google Assistant, as well as the continuing fake 5G drama.
Google Assistant is already on numerous TVs, but Google is deepening its integration with cable and satellite providers. It says we’ll see the result of those efforts starting “later this year.” Dish has announced that it’s building Assistant directly into its family of Hopper receivers and DVRs. The company has already been supporting Assistant voice commands from external devices, but this is much more convenient from the customer’s perspective, and you won’t need a separate smart speaker in the living room (or have to use your phone) to access Assistant.Read Article >
Instead, you can just use Dish’s bundled voice remote to perform Assistant actions, ask questions, or initiate a search for content. And there’s an actual on-screen UX for this stuff, so you’re not just calling out “Hey Google” voice commands and hoping for the best. You can search “based on channel, title, actor or genre, as well as check the weather or control other connected devices in your home,” according to Google.
Amazon’s philosophy on the smart home — put Alexa in literally everything, even the most mundane of products — is pushing Google and its hardware partners to develop similar devices with very narrow use cases. Today, Lenovo announced its new Smart Clock, an essentially smaller version of its Smart Display that features Google Assistant.Read Article >
It is mostly designed to tell you the time and get you up in the morning, but it also does a whole lot of other things, too: it can charge your devices, play music, and even be set up with a Google Assistant Routine specifically for sleeping, so your devices go on silent mode or turn off with a simple voice command. The device has a four-inch touchscreen and a fabric cover that looks basically identical to the material used on the Google Home Mini. It also has some neat customizable clock faces. Lenovo is pricing its Smart Clock at $80, and it’s scheduled to start shipping this spring.
Google is making a play to grow the Google Assistant ecosystem with more gadgets, called Google Assistant Connect. The idea is that manufacturers can create bespoke little devices that serve specific functions that are integrated with and controlled by the Assistant. The demo that Google is showing off today is a clever little E Ink display. It can show the weather or other information, but it isn’t a full-fledged smart speaker.Read Article >
Essentially, what this enables is the creation of smart gadgets without going through all the trouble of fully integrating microphones and the processing power necessary to run an intelligent assistant. You’ll need another Google Assistant device somewhere — Google says that is what “handles the higher-order computing,” while your little gadget does something else.
Google Assistant will soon be able to automatically insert punctuation when you dictate messages inside the Assistant app on Android or iOS. That means you’ll no longer have to awkwardly say “period” or “question mark” or “comma” if you’re a stickler for grammar. Instead, Assistant will be able to sense pauses and voice inflections to insert those things automatically.Read Article >
The only catch for iOS users, unsurprisingly, is that you’ll have to use the Assistant app to do this. That’s a bit more awkward than just bringing up Assistant by holding down the home icon on Android, but Siri Shortcuts has at least made getting there a little faster.
Jan 8, 2019
Google Assistant will soon be able to act as your real-life translator in 27 different languages. Google announced today that the voice assistant is getting a new “interpreter mode” that can translate in real time so you can hold conversations with someone who doesn’t share the same tongue. It works, but it’s not magic.Read Article >
You’ll be able to say things like, “Hey, Google, help me speak French,” or “Hey, Google, be my French interpreter,” and Google Assistant will show text across a smart display that translates your words as you speak. Afterward, it will open the microphone for the second person to be able to speak in their language and words will be translated across the screen at the same time. Google Assistant also plays back the words in your native tongue.
Today, Google is showing off auto-translation on smart display speakers, letting you naturally talk to each other with the speaker acting as the translator automatically. It has announced integrations with dozens of well-known brands. It will put Google Assistant on millions more iPhones with a Trojan horse play: integrating it into Google Maps.Read Article >
Google is going big. In an interview with The Verge, Manuel Bronstein, VP of product for Google Assistant, made the case that Google is building an entire ecosystem for Assistant that’s akin to the ecosystem it’s built for Android. It’s a platform play, basically, just like Alexa. And Google wants to ensure it’s everywhere.
Amazon’s Alexa got a head start on its smart home invasion compared to its primary competitor Google, and that early lead has extended beyond the home. Now, Google is aggressively pushing to catch up by partnering with third-party brands to further extend the reach of Google Assistant. One new area is connected car tech, which is served by a scattershot approach that involves often wonky built-in car infotainment systems, Apple’s CarPlay, Google’s Android Auto, and now Alexa and Google Assistant.Read Article >
Today at CES, consumer electronics companies Anker and JBL both announced new Google Assistant-equipped gadgets that plug in via the 12-volt car lighter port, so they’ll work with a majority of new and old cars as a way to smarten up your on-the-road tech with hands-free voice control and music playback, among other features.
Jan 7, 2019
As CES kicks off, Google has a massive presence: monorails, a booth that’s three times larger than last year, and likely a giant pile of news to announce. But ahead of all the actual product news, the company wants to beat its chest a little by announcing some numbers. By the end of the month, it expects that Google Assistant will be on 1 billion devices — up from 500 million this past May.Read Article >
That’s 900 million more than the number Amazon just gave us for Alexa. But just like Amazon, Google’s number comes with caveats. In an interview with The Verge, Manuel Bronstein, the company’s vice president of Google Assistant, copped to it. “The largest footprint right now is on phones. On Android devices, we have a very very large footprint,” he says. He characterizes the ratio of phones as “the vast majority” of that billion number, but he won’t specify it more than that. Though he does argue that smart speakers and other connected home devices comprise a notable and growing portion.
Jan 7, 2019
Make way, Bixby: Samsung is opening up its 2019 TV lineup to other voice assistants. The company has announced that users will be able to control its upcoming QLED sets with either Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant. But there’s one catch: you’ll have to provide the assistant device — be it an Echo, Google Home, or other smart speaker — yourself. Samsung’s TVs will understand and execute commands they receive from Alexa or Assistant, but the only built-in voice helper will continue to be Bixby.Read Article >
Also, we’re talking about fairly rudimentary support here. Alexa and Google Assistant can control volume, turn your TV on or off, switch inputs, or launch select apps. Bixby has deeper, more advanced capabilities since it’s woven into Samsung’s Tizen TV software. You can speak to Bixby with your Samsung TV remote control, but not the others.
Jan 6, 2019
Whirlpool’s new KitchenAid Smart Display with the Google Assistant is a gadget designed for the actual reality of your kitchen: it’s messy as hell when you cook. The 10-inch display is rated water jet-resistant, so if you accidentally aim your faucet the wrong way, it should be in fine. In theory.Read Article >
Much like other Google Assistant-powered smart displays, KitchenAid’s model responds to Google Assistant voice commands and you can watch YouTube videos or make calls through the device. It includes cooking recipes from Yummly, one of Whirlpool’s other brands. And just like the Google Home Hub, it can control your other smart home devices.