Google wants your home. Bad. We’ve seen evidence of this motive before with the Google Home lineup of devices, and now at CES 2018, we’re seeing even more lengths the company is going to try and claim a spot on your counter, shelf, coffee table, etc.
Called smart displays, these new devices come from a variety of manufacturers (such as Lenovo) and are all powered by the same platform: Android Things. If you’re unfamiliar, Android Things is essentially a fork of Android designed for IoT devices. Particularly, these devices run the Google Assistant experience which helps with interactions by both voice and touch. It’s also helpful since it can provide visual information like weather and the news.
You, of course, can also ask the Google Assistant questions like you would on a Home or your phone. Video calling is also a thing thanks to Google Duo and front-facing cameras. YouTube videos can also be shown (take that, Amazon), while sifting through your Google Photos library can also be done on the platform.
If these devices seem like something you’ve seen before, you aren’t mistaken. Amazon makes a gadget called the Echo Show which these new devices compete against. Only with Google, instead of just building one, they’re building a whole bunch of them the same way OEMs build a bunch of Android phones. Essentially anyone can get a hold of the necessary software just like they can the Android OS and build it for a wide range of devices, including third-party smart displays. So at least right now, it looks like Google could be used more widely than the Echo Show at least in terms of software.
Already some OEMs are promising they’ll build smart displays of their own, including JBL, LG, and Sony. Others will build more dedicated speakers such as Altec Lansing, Anker Innovations, Bang & Olufsen, Braven, iHome, Jensen, Klipsch, Knit Audio, Memorex, RIVA Audio, and SōLIS. Expect more news on smart displays this summer when some models launch.