Google is gearing up for an Alexa fight at CES

Photo by James Bareham / The Verge

We’re still a ways away from the official start of CES 2018, but the news is already starting to trickle in, and everybody is setting up for the big show. And, if the parking lot outside of the Las Vegas convention center is any indication, one of the biggest shows this year is coming from a company that has historically stayed quiet at CES: Google.

Last night, we watched as Google began setting up a seriously massive installation, complete with the classic Google slide that you normally only see at its headquarters in Mountain View, California. The branding is all “Hey Google,” which is a pretty good indication of what’s getting pushed this year: Google Assistant.

Our best guess is that this isn’t so much about pushing the Google Home, Google Home Mini, and Google Home Max. Instead, it’s an indication that Google wants to push back on the Amazon Alexa narrative at CES the past couple years. Alexa completely dominated CES last year, with integration announcements from all sorts of companies.

Photo by Dieter Bohn / The Verge

This year, we’ve already seen early Google Assistant integration announcements, and we fully expect more will be on the way. To push that story, Google not only has this huge booth, but has also thrown “Hey Google” on the Las Vegas Monorail and in various billboards across the city. It also has what looks like a giant gumball machine at the main entrance of the convention center. The main booth in the parking lot is fronted by two gigantic video screens, as well.

Over the years, we’ve seen many CES announcements full of sound and fury, but they haven’t always signified as much as the companies making them have hoped. Google is clearly hoping to buck that trend, and it has a fairly recent update for speaker makers to improve the quality of the Assistant when it’s included in third-party devices.

Photo by Dieter Bohn / The Verge
Photo by Dieter Bohn / The Verge
Photo by Dieter Bohn / The Verge
Photo by Dieter Bohn / The Verge
Photo by Dieter Bohn / The Verge
Photo by James Bareham / The Verge
Photo by James Bareham / The Verge

Comments

I live in Las Vegas. I was wondering if the is anything outside the convention center the general public could do or see. I know you can’t go inside unless you a member of the industry and pay for a very expensive ticket. But just curious if there is stuff outside I could do. Or at least take photos of stuff like this.

Yes there are stuff outside like this Google one, there’s a bunch of stuff outside you can visit and look. You might even be able to enter some of the outside stuff since there are not security guards to check for badges. But I’m sure for the contests like Amazon Truck (throw a bean bag and win a prize), and this Google gumball machine, the workers will be checking badges and scanning badges too.

I live in Las Vegas as well and have attended CES for several years as an industry affiliate. I can tell you from experience, security is all over the place checking badges and IDs. There are barricades bordering the outside areas as well. Not only that but… there has been heightened security everywhere near the strip/downtown and major events since the shooting in October.

Between the slide, giant gumball machine, and monorail, this looks like a Phineas and Ferb creation.

It’s hard to take Google seriously in the assistant space so long as both Alexa and Siri work better with Google services than Google Assistant does. (Shared and additional calendars are still completely invisible to Google Assistant)

Do you mean additional calendars within Google Calendar?

If so, there was an update in November last year that allows you to access additional calendars and set one as a default for Google Assistant. You can set it up in the Google Home app by going to settings> services > calendar, and from there picking the calendars you want Assistant to be able to access, and which one you want to use as the default.

how about just allowing access to G suite calendars

It’s harder to take Alexa and Siri seriously when Google Assistant works so, so much better for literally everything I’ve ever tried on it and Alexa works poorly if at all, and Siri is absolutely valueless.

Op might be a bit hyperbolic here but his point stands. Google Assistant works better in my experience than Alexa or Siri.

That said, I think all these smart speakers are still a bit crap.

While I’d certainly like them to make a HomePod mini, Siri works pretty nicely for me. Having said that, a chunk of it for me is in the value of not having to give either Google or Amazon an absurd amount of my personal info, knowing that Apple go to almost absurd lengths to protect your privacy.

I wanted to try Google Assistant, but the second after opening it Google presented a massive list of data/privacy demands and when I tapped "No" hoping I might be able to use without signing my life away, it threw a confused error about administrative policies and refused to work. Obviously no mere mortal could ever say no to the mighty Google, must be a corporate policy imposed from on high..

You are really gullible if you believe Apple goes out of their way for your privacy. Oh, so it’s okay in your eyes for Apple to secretly underclock older iPhones. Apple only confessed to that because 3rd parties brought it to the public’s attention. If and when Apple drops their Homepod. Rest assured it will require an iPhone and only an iPhone to use and setup. Like Apples watches. Apple is all about locking its users and products to work with, and only with other Apple products, period.

I literally laughed at your statement of a Homepod mini. Apple is all about making as much money as possible. When both Google and Amazon announced their holiday pricing for the mini’s and dots. They sold millions of those devices compared to the bigger versions. Why? Well that is easy, you are getting a lot of bang for your buck. Something that Apple never does. But putting all that aside. Siri by far is the dumbest assistant out there, because you have to learn to speak to Siri. Whereas Google Assistant you can talk to her like you would a regular person. Plus Google Assistant remembers context and previous conversations. Something all assistants HAVE to do if they want to be smart and easier to use. The only way Siri could have a chance at this sector, is Apple has to remember previous conversations to get the proper context and meaning from a user’s responses. Oh, but that gets into privacy concerns as you put it. You like to pretend that Apple is all about a user’s privacy. Get real. As for lower priced versions. Get real again.

It is much more natural to speak to Google Assistant or Siri than Alexa, but I think that Alexa’s being more or less a spoken command line is a strength. That’s what allows it to be so easily extensible with third-party skills, and it keeps it from making promises to the user of general AI that no assistant is anywhere close to keeping.

You are trying to uplift Siri and say it’s as natural to speak as Google Assistant. You have either never tried Google Assistant, or you are a liar. Siri IS by far the dumbest out of the bunch. You have to learn to speak to Siri in order to get any useful results. Google Assistant you can speak naturally. You can’t do that with Siri, period.

If you speak naturally to Google Home it will respond "I’m sorry I can’t help with that right now, but I am learning new skills everyday" 90% of the time. 5% of the time it will tell you that you need to buy a chromecast to do anything. The remaining 5% is accurately detects what you are requesting.

You are really gullible if you believe Apple goes out of their way for your privacy.

If you actually read the link in my comment, you’d see how Apple work to balance personalisation with protecting your privacy, but hey, don’t let facts get in the way of an angry hater wall of text..

It’s hard to take you seriously with such an incorrect and hyperbolic statement.

Not for skills, although they’re starting to catchup with integration.

It’s hard to take Alexa seriously when you have to use such rigid phrases and have no YouTube integration.
It’s hard to take Siri seriously when it’s such garbage and has no smart speaker at all.

Er, the HomePod hasn’t shipped yet, but it does exist..

Yes I know it’s something that will be here in the future. No one can claim it’s better than any competitor though which is what my reply was about.

It’s hard to take Siri seriously when it’s such garbage and has no smart speaker at all.

Your reply stated something that wasn’t true, and I don’t see anyone else here claiming anything about how good the HomePod will turn out to be "better than any competitor", so really not sure who you were replying to if that’s the case?

When did they change it to "Hey Google" … As far as i remember it was always "OK Google", right?

Because Apple used Hey Siri first so everybody gotta copy

Nice, classic Jeff troll.

Android apologists be like "hey [assistant]" is the natural evolution of activating smart assistants.

Same with Apple Pay → Android/Samsung Pay,m

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