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Digital assistants made it into speakers, headphones, phones, lamps, and more at IFA

Digital assistants made it into speakers, headphones, phones, lamps, and more at IFA

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Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

The IFA technology conference in Berlin this past week blessed us with gadgets. We witnessed the introduction of questionably large speakers, new phones, mixed reality headsets, and even new gaming mice. Much like we saw at CES, virtual assistants also continued to creep into every product. 

As of this summer, Google Assistant, Alexa, and Cortana can all be built into third-party manufacturers' devices, and these new IFA products demonstrate an interest in including them. Most companies either bundle support for all the assistants into one device, or release a specifically designed gadget for each assistant.

Given that Amazon was the first to publicly release its assistant's API, it saw early success at CES. Now, however, device manufacturers have choices and are experimenting with other assistants, particularly the Google Assistant, which we saw in a big way at IFA. Additionally, Microsoft and Amazon announced a partnership that'll make it easier to use either Alexa or Cortana on enabled devices. This could prove to be important life insurance for both assistants.

These are all the gadgets we could find that included a major virtual assistant at the show this year, including Google Assistant, Cortana, and Alexa.

Alexa built in

  • Bragi Dash is updating its earbuds in October to include Alexa. (They already support Siri and Google Assistant.)
  • Motorola is resurrecting its Moto X line with the Moto X4, which includes Alexa.
  • Logitech slightly missed the IFA cutoff, but it announced earlier in August that its UE Boom 2 or Megaboom will now support Alexa on Android devices. Users will have to press the Bluetooth button to activate it, as the microphone isn't always on. The devices already support Google Assistant and Siri.
  • Libratone's Zipp wireless speaker now works with Alexa. The integration will come to all existing Zipp speakers through a firmware update. Users have to manually tap the top of the speaker, though, as the company's microphones aren't always listening.
  • DTS says its Phorus PS10 wireless speaker, Onkyo Smart Speaker P3, and Pioneer Elite Smart Speaker F4 will all feature Alexa through a firmware update.

Alexa integration

Google Assistant built in

  • LG's new flagship V30 phone runs Android Nougat, which includes Google Assistant support.
  • Sony's Xperia XZ1 and XZ1 Compact phones run Android Oreo and have Google Assistant built in.
  • Anker's Zolo Mojo smart speaker includes Google Assistant. (The company already makes an Echo Dot competitor called the Eufy Genie.)
  • Panasonic's GA10 is a rectangular-shaped speaker for the home.
  • A Chinese company called Mobvoi officially introduced its tiny TicHome Mini.
  • Sony's new HomePod clone, the LF-S50G, features Google Assistant to control connected home devices.
  • Harman's new JBL Link series features Google Assistant, even on portable devices.

Google Assistant integration

  • Sony's 5.6-foot MHC-V90W party speaker can be controlled through Google Assistant.
  • Philips' new Hue White Ambiance Cher Suspension light supports Alexa, Google Assistant, and Siri.
  • LG says its connected home appliances are now compatible with Google Assistant. (The company had already announced that its connected refrigerator and webOS smart platform are compatible with Alexa.)

Siri / HomeKit integration

Cortana built in

  • Lenovo's Yoga 920 laptop is basically a home speaker. It responds to Cortana commands even if it's closed and you're more than two feet away.
  • Acer's Spin 5 convertible features Cortana and can register commands up to 13 feet away.
  • All PCs running Windows 10 include Cortana, and lots of them were introduced, so that's a win for Microsoft.