Google brings voice assistant to speaker screens and more cars


Google made a rare appearance at the CES consumer electronics show in Las Vegas on Monday to announce versions of its digital assistant for speakers with screens and cars.

Google Assistant on a JBL smart speaker. (Source: Google)

The new speakers with Google Assistant are similar to Inc.’s recently released Echo Show and Echo Dot. A person can ask the Google Assistant a question and the response will be shown on a screen. While Alexa for screens works exclusively with Amazon’s own Echo hardware, Google Assistant is compatible with devices made by other companies, including new models from Sony Corp., LG Electronics Inc., Lenovo Group Ltd. and JBL, a brand of Samsung Electronics Co.’s Harman division.

Google Assistant will also let people make video calls on devices that are equipped with a camera, the company said. It will also be possible to watch YouTube videos, an exclusive difference from Amazon’s devices since, in an ongoing feud, Google has blocked YouTube playback on the Echo Show and Echo Spot.

Google’s move foreshadows the search giant’s future hardware plans. The company is working on a new Google Home speaker with a display, code-named Manhattan, for release in 2018, two people familiar with the product’s development told Bloomberg in December.

Alphabet Inc.’s Google is also releasing a version of the Assistant for Android Auto in the U.S., the company’s platform for projecting commands from a smartphone to a car’s center console. Google previously brought the voice service to cars with navigation systems that run Android.