Google on Wednesday announced that its Google Assistant tech would officially be available on a number of third-party speakers and other devices later this year.
The company said that it would open its digital voice assistant up to developers at its Google I/O conference this past May, so the moves are not unexpected.
Google teased that various smart home appliances, including washing machines and vacuums, will also have access to the Assistant, and named LG as one partner. The company said more devices carrying the digital helper would be announced at the IFA tech show occurring this week in Berlin.
The company is making it sound like the Assistant will behave the same way on third-party devices as it does on Google’s own Home speaker. An Anker representative said the Zolo Mojo speaker will have all the same functionality as the Home except for the ability to make phone calls, but that the company expects to add that feature before the end of the year.
The Mojo itself is similar in size to the Home, but costs $US70, significantly undercutting the Home’s $US130 retail price. The representative said the Home is a bit louder, however. Details about the other two speakers are a bit more sparse, but Panasonic says its tower-like speaker will arrive in “early 2018,” while the TicHome Mini, which was technically announced around Google I/O, looks to be highly portable.
Google’s larger strategy here seems to be following in the footsteps of Amazon and its rival Alexa assistant. Amazon has made it a point to integrate its digital helper into whatever device or platform it can, and has allowed it to exist on speakers beyond its popular Echo series already.
That openness has given Alexa a general leg-up in the nascent voice assistant market thus far. The underlying belief among several major tech companies is that such assistants will be a dominant interface in the years to come. With the forthcoming Assistant-enabled appliances, for instance, Google says you could use voice commands to start up your washing machine and check if your laundry is done.
The announcements here appear to mark Google’s first step at countering Alexa’s momentum in the home. It’s worth noting that the company already holds a major advantage on mobile devices, though, given that the Assistant comes baked into its popular Android operating system.
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