At the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show, Google took the opportunity to announce multiple developments regarding its smart assistant platform, the Google Assistant. The product-packed, eventful week in Vegas was the perfect venue to advertise connected devices, smart home products, and artificial intelligence, and Google revealed how its AI-powered platform is expanding beyond smart speakers through smart displays and Android Auto.
Google Assistant saw a slow rollout that seemed to curtail its potential, in great part because it was initially limited to Pixel smartphones and Google’s Allo messaging service. It eventually reached non-Google smartphones and Android Wear watches, and the launch of Google Home substantially accelerated its growth. While the original Google Home was steeply priced at $130 (a bit much for a mediocre speaker with then-limited assistant capabilities), newer Google Home products are proving to be a success. The Google Home Mini, a direct response to Amazon’s affordable Echo Dot, propelled sales of Google Home devices to a unit a second since the Mini’s October launch. And over the past year, the Google Assistant has reached over 400 million devices through Android smartphones, smart speakers, Android Wear smartwatches, and Assistant-enabled headphones like Bose’s QuietComfort 35 II.
Now, Google’s announced its incursion into a new product category: Smart displays akin its competitor Amazon’s Echo Spot and Echo Show. With Google Home, the Mountain View giant focused on providing a hands-free way to interact with Google Assistant and control smart home devices, but there are moments when a screen would make the software UX even better, and the Assistant easier to interact with. Smart displays running the Google Assistant will have touchscreen-enabled displays that’ll play videos, show pictures from Google Photos, and even make video calls through Google Duo. They’ll also show information cards and details that’ll accompany the Google Assistant’s voice responses, which promise to enrich answers to basic questions, restaurant and movie recommendations, calendar appointments, and more.
These smart displays will be offered by a variety of manufacturers, much like how the Google Assistant now runs on multiple products from third-parties. Starting later this year, you can expect to see devicves from JBL, Lenovo, LG and Sony powered by Android Things, Google’s lightweight operating system designed for Internet of Things (IoT) devices. It’s been available in multiple developer previews ahead of adoption by companies using certified System-on-Modules, and soon it’ll power smart displays.
But that’s not all Google announced on the Google Assistant front. The Google Assistant will come to Android TV devices and existing products from LG, TCL and Xiaomi, the search giant said. And the Google Assistant will finally make its way to cars via Android Auto, which is available on more than 400 models from over 40 brands including Ford, General Motors, Nissan, and Volkswagen. It’ll allow for better hands-free music control, directions from Google Maps and Waze, and texting and calling functionality. Google also teased new features, such as the ability to reserve a parking space with SpotHero or order a drink from Starbucks while keeping your eyes on the road. (If your car doesn’t support Android Auto, you’ll be able to take advantage of the newfound Google Assistant integration by running it on your phone with the Android Auto app.)
If there was a common thread in Google’s announcements on Monday, it’s that the Google Assistant isn’t just here to stay — it’s expanding to more platforms than ever before.
Source: Google Blog