Last year’s Echo Show turned a lot of heads, which offered a bit of an interface to the otherwise faceless Alexa platform that Amazon has built. While the intention for attaching a screen to an Echo might have been for the purpose of something else entirely, Google thinks they can do one better than Amazon did, with their own Smart Displays running Google Assistant.
Google just announced a slew of new Smart Displays featuring Google Assistant at CES 2018. These Smart Displays would be manufactured by different partners like LG, Lenovo and Sony. With a display, Google Assistant will be able to play a YouTube video, search for map directions, call a cab and track it, as well as pull up images through Google Photos. While all of this is already possible on Google smartphones, these displays are meant to be stationery items that can be placed on tables and shelves and other counter-tops.
Google does aim targeting Amazon’s Alexa with this device. The OS on the Smart Display will be the new Android Things OS which Google had announced towards the end of 2017, since the company wanted their new internet of things devices to be powered by the software. Also similar to what Alexa does with skills, Google Assistant is adding something called Actions that are voice commands to perform specific functions that can be carried out towards connected apps and bots. This includes applications for devices from Nest and Philips as well. There are also bots to crack jokes that are integrated as part of the actions, along with Trivia and other interesting activities.
Google has also made it clear that the device is not just a tablet with Google in-built. The Smart Display does not come with 4G LTE cellular network and it also does not have its own web browser. Instead, these devices will come with better microphones and speakers. Qualcomm is also in talks with Google for producing custom-made chips specific for the functioning of these devices. The device is also quite intuitive. Simply saying telling it “Good morning”, will make the display light up and show personalised information for users to get ready for the day such as showing the weather, pending activities and appointments. Another advantage that Google Display will have over Amazon’s Alexa is that now there is full YouTube integration that Alexa does not have. Coupled with high resolution displays, this could be the competitor that Amazon will be dreading to take on this year.