Google had a huge exhibit space at CES 2019 in Las Vegas (complete with its own roller coaster) and it made plenty of announcements concerning the Google Assistant. Let’s take a look at the major ones made by both Google and third-party companies this week at CES.
Google: New features and a new 1 billion device milestone
While Google didn’t announce any new first-party hardware with Google Assistant during CES 2019, it said it expects Assistant to be available on 1 billion devices by the end of January. That’s a huge jump from the 500-million-device milestone it achieved in May 2018.
Google also announced more features for Assistant this week, including integration with Google Maps, and how it can help you check into your airline flight. Android users will get to use Google Assistant to respond to text messages on your phone via SMS, WhatsApp, Messenger, Hangouts, Viber, Telegram, Messages, and more.
If you own a Google Home smart speaker or Smart Display, Google announced a potentially handy new Assistant feature: Interpreter Mode. It will offer audio translations of someone else’s language into your local language on Google Home speakers, and text translations on Smart Displays.
Also, Android phones will soon get an update let people access features on Google Assistant without leaving the lock screen, like search results, setting up alarms and more.
Finally, Google announced Google Assistant Connect at CES 2019, which will let companies connect to Assistant-based smart speakers or smart displays without including their own speakers and microphones. For example, the smart speaker could connect to an e-ink display to show information like the current weather conditions. More information on Assistant Connect will come later this year.
Google Assistant finally begins its rollout for Sonos speakers
In 2017, Sonos announced some of its smart speakers, including the Sonos One and Sonos Beam, would add support for Google Assistant in 2018. However, the company later revealed the support update would be delayed until 2019. This week, Sonos announced the Google Assistant update for those speakers had finally started rolling out and will be available for all of them in the coming weeks.
In addition, older Sonos Wi-Fi-connected speakers will also get an update so Google Assistant can recognize them. If you own an Assistant-based smart device, you can use voice commands to tell those speakers to play music.
Samsung announces Google Assistant support for its smart TVs
During its CES 2019 press event, Samsung announced if you have a Google Assistant device like a Google Home speaker, you will be able to use voice commands on select Samsung smart TVs. The support will be rather limited, as you will be able to use voice command to turn the smart TV on or off, along with changing channels or the input source. You can also turn the volume up and down with a Google Assistant voice command, or launch specific smart TV apps.
Samsung says its 2019 smart TVs will support this, and hinted that older models could get this support in the future. Samsung will also add this kind of support for Amazon’s Alexa and for its upcoming Galaxy Home smart speaker, which will use the company’s Bixby digital assistant.
Philips Hue adds more Google Assistant support
Philips Hue, the smart bulb and lighting division of Philips, announced a new Google Assistant-based feature for its products called Gentle Wake Up at CES 2019. If you have Philips Hue bulbs in your bedroom, this feature will brighten them 30 minutes before your alarm goes off in the morning, to make it easier for you to wake up.
This feature will also allow you to use Google Assistant to set up effects to make you sleep better. For example, you can use commands to change the normal Hue lights to a softer and warmer tone at night so you can fall asleep faster. This update will start rolling out in March.
Lenovo’s Google Assistant-based Smart Clock
Lenovo launched its Google Assistant-based Smart Display speaker in late 2018. For its CES 2019 product lineup, the company announced a second Assistant-based speaker with a display. The Lenovo Smart Clock is exactly what it sounds like — an alarm clock with a 4-inch display. Of course, it can show the current time, but the display can also show upcoming alarms, calendar events and any Assistant voice commands you give it.
The clock has a fabric-lined 6-watt speaker with two passive radiators, along with Dolby’s noise reduction technology. There’s no camera on board, so you can’t make video calls, but you can still use it to make voice commands to control smart home devices, such as Philips Hue bulbs in the bedroom. It will go on sale later this spring for $79.99.
The Anker Roav Bolt will bring Google Assistant to your car
The folks at Anker used CES 2019 to announce a new accessory for your vehicle called the Anker Roav Bolt. It basically makes easier to use Google Assistant in your car. You will need an Assistant-based smartphone in the car as well. You then plug the Bolt into your vehicle’s cigarette lighter port and connect it to your car’s stereo with Bluetooth or, if available, an AUX cable. Finally, you connect the device to your phone to start using Google Assistant voice commands, such as making calls, getting directions, play music and more.
The Anker Roav Bolt also has two USB ports so you can charge your phone while you use it for voice commands. It will go on sale sometime in February for $50.
Verizon HumX will help you in your car with Google Assistant
During CES 2019, Verizon Wireless announced the HumX, its 4G LTE device that connects to your car, will add Google Assistant support later in 2019. HumX will let you use Assistant-based voice commands to locate your vehicle on your smartphone, and access your trip history. You can also get information about your current fuel level, learn how long it will take to get to work, and more. Current second generation HueX owners will get a software update to add Google Assistant support later in the year. Verizon will sell the version of HumX with Assistant out of the box during the first quarter of 2019. It will cost $69, with a $15 monthly service fee.
House of Marley reveals environmentally friendly Google Assistant speaker
House of Marley is dedicated to releasing environmentally friendly audio products, and announced its first smart speaker at CES 2019. It’s called the Get Together Mini, and uses Google Assistant for voice commands. It also supports multi-room music with Google Cast and can charge other devices. More importantly, the speaker is made of materials such as bamboo, recycled aluminum, organic cotton, and hemp-based fabric that definitely make a difference for your carbon footprint. The speaker is scheduled to go on sale in August for $199.99.
Kohler Verdera Voice Lighted Mirror with Assistant announced
Well-known kitchen and bathroom company Kohler announced this week at CES it is expanding the reach of its Verdera Voice Lighted Mirror. Previously, the mirror supported Amazon’s Alexa, but at CES 2019 Kohler said a version supporting Google Assistant will release in the fourth quarter of 2019.
Like the Alexa version, the Google Assistant models of the Verdera Voice Lighted Mirror will be able to take voice commands to control the amount of light from its dimmable LEDs. It also has two microphones and embedded speakers that are in a hermetically sealed casing. This will allow owners to use commands to get the latest news, play music or do anything else that an Assistant-based speaker can do. The price will be on the high side, with the 24-inch version of the mirror selling for $1,249, the 34-inch version selling for $1,499 and the 40-inch edition priced at $1,624.
KitchenAid and GE reveal Assistant-based displays for the kitchen
We are seeing more and smarter home devices announced for the kitchen, and Google Assistant is making entries into that part of the home as well. At CES 2019, the KitchenAid Smart Display was revealed. It has a 10-inch display, looks similar to the Google Home Hub, and similarly will respond to Assistant-based voice commands, along with showing content. However, this KitchenAid Smart Display will have an IPX5 resistance rating, which means it should work even if you splash some water on it while cooking.
The KitchenAid Smart Display will also pre-install the Yummly recipe app, so you can quickly find something great to cook. Unfortunately, it looks like this display won’t release until the second half of 2019, and it will be a bit expensive. The company says it will cost between $200 and $300.
GE is also launching a kitchen smart display, and it’s much bigger than the KitchenAid device. As we saw at CES 2019, the GE Kitchen Hub is a full Android device, running on a huge 27-inch display. It’s designed to sit above your stove like a microwave, and you can use it to access cooking videos, recipes, and more. It also has two cameras; one is on the front for take video calls, and one over the oven, so you and anyone else can see what you are cooking. The device also has an exhaust vent at the bottom for removing the smoke from your stove while cooking.
Since it is a full Android device, you can also run any apps on it, so you can watch Netflix while you cook, or listen to an Audible audiobook. There’s no word on a water resistance rating, so don’t splash anything on it. The GE Kitchen Hub goes on sale in May for either $1,199 with a matte finish or $1,399 with stainless steel.
Dish to add Google Assistant into its Hopper DVR
Many Android TV-based smart televisions already support Google Assistant, either directly or indirectly. Now the satellite TV provider Dish is expanding its use of Assistant even more in your living room or media room. At CES 2019, it revealed plans to integrate Google Assistant into its Hopper set-top DVR boxes. If you have one, you can use your voice-based remote to ask Assistant to give you the latest news, weather and sports course, and it will also allow you to control any other smart home devices you might have in your house. This support is also coming to Dish’s Joey and Wally set-top boxes as well in an update in the coming months.
Google Assistant was a huge part of CES 2019, and these were just the highlights of a busy week of Assistant-based product and feature announcements at the show?