Google made a flurry of announcements at CES this week, many of them coming rapid fire this morning.
Don’t have time to dig through it all? That’s OK. Here’s the condensed version:
- Google says that Assistant, its voice-powered AI, will be on 1 billion devices around the world by the end of this month.
- Meanwhile, Google is also rolling out an update today that brings Google Assistant into Google Maps on both iOS and Android. It’s a bit more powerful on the latter, as Google has more flexibility on their own platform, but it’s a very useful addition on both.
- Google says that Assistant will soon be able to control Sonos speakers. They’ve been promising that for more than a year now, but it should be coming sooner than later. It’ll land on Sonos speakers with built-in mics first (Sonos One and Sonos Beam), but you’ll also be able to use Google Home devices to control mic-lacking Sonos speakers (like the Play:one or many of the older speakers) down the road.
- 2019 Samsung TVs will get Google Assistant compatibility later this year. If you have a Google Home or something similar, you’ll be able to link it up with your Samsung TV, allowing you to turn it on/off, adjust the volume, change the channel and switch inputs with your voice.
- Dish is adding Google Assistant to its Hopper set-top boxes, allowing you to speak to Assistant through your Dish voice remote.
- Google Assistant will soon be able to check you into flights (United only at first, with other airlines on the way) when you say “Hey Google, check into my flight.” It can also now book hotels for you.
- Lenovo is building an $80 Google Assistant-powered smart clockmeant for your nightstand.
- Assistant’s new “Interpreter Mode” can translate conversations on the fly in 27 different languages.
- Google is previewing a new initiative called Assistant Connect, allowing manufacturers to make simple devices that tap your existing Google Home gear to do any required heavy lifting. Their example is an e-ink display that can show weather/calendar information — it doesn’t actually connect to the internet by itself, but has a connected Google Home handle and it passes that info on to the display.
- Google worked with both Anker and JBL to build accessories that pop into your car’s 12v outlet (that thing once known as the cigarette lighter, back when that seemed like a totally normal and not super-weird thing) and make Assistant work a bit better in the car. Both can connect over either Bluetooth or AUX. They’ve got built-in echo/noise cancellation tuned for road noise, and are built to let you use Assistant without having to unlock your phone.
As you can probably tell, Google went all in on Assistant at CES this year; effectively every single one of their news items has to do with Assistant in one way or another. They built a two-story building right outside the convention center, entirely dedicated to demonstrating Assistant. Google has made it pretty clear at this point that it sees Assistant as the next evolution of Google searches, so expect Assistant to play a role in almost everything consumer-facing the company does moving forward.