Google has been aggressively pushing its voice assistant to a myriad of devices and today, it’s adding another category to the list — smart displays. The search engine giant today, at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, introduced a new platform which lets users talk to Assistant and view the results on an integrated screen. If it sounds familiar, that’s because it is. Amazon has a similar lineup called the Echo Show and Spot. However, what sets Google’s approach apart is that it has already opened up the platform to third-party manufacturers.
Google Assistant on smart displays is based on the company’s Android Things IoT platform and isn’t just an Android tablet slapped between speakers. Because of that, it has a dedicated interface which shows your query results through cards like a lot of other Google products. The home screen simply consists of suggested content Assistant thinks you might be interested such as the traffic. You can talk to it by saying “Hey, Google” and swipe right on the display to manually go back. In addition to that, it packs all the usual voice assistant features such as pulling up weather details, pictures and videos from Google Photos, controlling your smart home, guiding you through food recipes, directions, et cetera.
Moreover, you can video-call someone using Google’s own Duo app. However, the biggest upside it holds over Alexa is the fact that it supports YouTube. If you’ve been living in a cave or something, Google has shamelessly blocked YouTube access to every Amazon product including the Fire TV. Now we know why. All of these services are, however, constrained to Google apps for now. But the company says third-party compatibility is coming soon.
To kick things off, Google has partnered with four hardware makers for building products like these — JBL, Lenovo, LG, and Sony. Lenovo has already briefly introduced its offering — An 8 or 10-inch with either HD or Full HD resolution which is powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 624 chip, 2GB of RAM and 4GB of internal storage. Moreover, there’s a physical switch which puts an actual shutter to the webcam. Beat that, Amazon. The smaller variant is priced at $199, while the larger one goes all the way up to $249.