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.
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.
Here are our picks for the most interesting devices with Assistant that were announced at CES 2019.
Traditional smart speakers
Let’s start with smart speakers because that’s where voice assistants first found a home after making the jump from smartphones.
The biggest announcement came from Sonos, which was finally ready to show off Google Assistant support on its latest speakers. Although the integration is still in beta, it seems to work, and it will be coming to the Sonos Beam in addition to the Sonos One.
When Sonos announced its first smart speaker, the Sonos One, back in October 2017, it promised to be the first to support both Alexa and Google Assistant on the same device. The Sonos One launched with Alexa, and Sonos said it planned to add Google Assistant via an update in 2018, which was delayed into this year. There’s no word on an exact release date, but with beta testing happening now, Sonos’ free update hopefully won’t be too far away.
Meanwhile, The House of Marley Get Together Mini is another traditional Google Assistant device. Fundamentally, it’s a battery-powered smart speaker. You can set your voice assistant to listen for a wake word, and there’s a USB Type-A port on its rear if you want to have it charge one of your other devices.
Where the Get Together Mini differs is in its construction, which consists of bamboo, aluminum, and a fabric made of hemp, cotton, and recycled plastics. House of Marley claims that the speaker is made of some of the highest percentages of sustainable materials of any Google Assistant smart speaker.
Google first announced its smart display initiative at CES 2018, and 2019 saw a handful of new devices announced, each with a specific use case in mind.
Lenovo’s Smart Clock is a more compact smart display that’s designed for bedrooms. Its 4-inch screen might not be the kind of thing you’re going to watch YouTube videos on, but it’s meant to be just the right size for setting alarms, getting information about calendar events, or showing you simple information about your commute. Crucially, it doesn’t have a camera, unlike the Amazon Echo Spot.
Meanwhile, KitchenAid debuted a smart display that’s designed for the kitchen with a water resistance rating that should protect it from pretty much any food spillage you can send its way. It’ll have access to built-in recipes from sister brand Yummly. Mostly, we’re just here for the reassurance that we’re not going to have to replace our expensive kitchen gadget every time a blender overflows.
Sticking with the kitchen theme, GE has produced a 27-inch touchscreen that’s made to be mounted above your stove. As a more or less fully fledged Android device, the touchscreen can be used for anything from looking up recipes to watching a bit of Netflix while you cook. Its price starts at $1,199, but unfortunately, it lacks the water resistance of KitchenAid’s Smart Display.
TVs and soundbars
Plenty of TVs from like likes of LG and Sony already have Google Assistant built in, but Samsung has held out until now, preferring to keep things in the family with its own Bixby assistant. Thankfully, with its 2019 models, that’s now changed, and both assistants are now supported across the range.
If you don’t want to have to buy an entirely new TV just to get support for Google Assistant, then an external set-top box upgrade could have everything you need. Dish has announced that its Hopper receivers and DVRs will soon have the voice assistant built in, meaning you can use its voice remote to search for TV content or control other smart devices.
The JBL Link Bar wasn’t actually announced at CES this year — we got our first glimpse of it way back at Google I/O in 2018 — but the company did finally announce the price and release date at this year’s show. Part smart speaker and part set-top box, the soundbar’s audio can not only be controlled by Google Assistant, but it can also show video on a connected TV, and it can even overlay Google information on top. The JBL Link Bar will finally be available in spring 2019 for $399.95.
Along with JBL, Klipsch and LG also had a few Google Assistant-supporting soundbars of their own. The Klipsch Bar 40G is a 40-inch wide soundbar that features an HDMI port for connecting it to your TV. There’s also the 48-inch Klipsch 48W, but this is “compatible with” the voice assistant rather than having it built in. That means that its smart functionality only extends as far as letting Google Assistant stream music to it. Meanwhile, the LG SL10, SL9, and SL8 ranges of soundbar will also feature the assistant.
Klipsch hasn’t announced exactly how much each soundbar will cost when they start to go on sale this spring, but it said that pricing for the lineup will start at $299, while LG’s soundbar pricing is yet to be announced.
Voice assistants for your car
Although most of these products are designed for you to use Google Assistant to control devices in your home, the JBL Link Drive and Anker Roav Bolt are designed to bring the voice assistant into your car. Both plug into your cigarette lighter to charge, and they output audio to your car’s stereo using either Bluetooth or a traditional 3.5mm jack.
Once they’re hooked up, you’ll be able to access Google Assistant’s full functionality, meaning you can control your music, navigation, and even send some messages — all without taking your hands off the wheel or your eyes off the road.
The Roav Bolt will cost $50 when it launches next month, while JBL’s Link Drive is slightly more expensive at $60 and is due to be released this spring.
Voice assistants for your bathroom
Kohler had an entire smart bathroom to show off at this year’s CES, but unfortunately, its Numi 2.0 Intelligent Toilet is only compatible with Alexa, so we’ll have to limit our discussion to its voice-controlled mirror, which has a Google Assistant model launching soon. It will be available starting at $1,249 for the 24-inch model or $1,624 for the full 40-inch model.
Another smart mirror comes to us from Capstone, but unlike Kohler’s model, this one actually includes a touchscreen, making it something of a hybrid between a smart mirror and a smart display. Along with watching videos and checking out the weather, the mirror’s screen is also touch-sensitive, so you can even compose emails while starting at your bathroom sink.
There’s no word yet on how much the mirrors are expected to cost, but there’ll be 19-inch and 22-inch models, and they’ll be available later this year.
Finally, Simplehuman’s Mirror Hi-Fi is the third Google Assistant-equipped smart mirror range to have been announced at CES this year. It’s doesn’t have the full touchscreen that’s present on the Capstone Smart Mirror, but it’s also a fraction of the cost with prices starting at $350. The mirror is also equipped with lights that the company claims are able to simulate sunlight.
Finally, the U by Moen smart shower got Google Assistant support this year, following Alexa’s addition in 2018. Along with turning the shower on and off, you can also set it to your desired temperature using just your voice.
There were plenty of other Google Assistant gadgets that didn’t fit into any clear category. Lutron had a new fan controller that can be controlled with Google Assistant, Daikin had a smart thermostat, Gourmia announced three new Assistant-compatible countertop kitchen appliances, and Orbit added Google Assistant support for its smart sprinkler system.
There is already a huge range of different Google Assistant devices, but a small Google prototype suggested that many more might be on the way soon. At the show, the company was showing off a little E Ink screen, which is a prototype of what Google hopes will one day be an entirely new class of smart devices.
Rather than packing the smarts directly, the idea is that they will be able to take inputs from a fully fledged Google Assistant smart speaker. Ask a speaker about your commute, and a low-power screen that’s mounted to your fridge could tell you about any traffic you’re likely to encounter, for example.
We might have seen a lot of Google Assistant hardware at this year’s CES, but we’ve barely scratched the surface for what Google has planned for its voice assistant.
Source: The Verge