Not to be outdone by Amazon, Google has something new up its sleeve.
Amazon made waves in recent months after it unveiled the Echo, a voice-activated home device that wireless syncs with a user’s online accounts to play music, order products, and control automated aspects of the home. According to a report from the New York Times, however, Echo isn’t the only device of its kind on the block.
Google is expected to announce Google Home, the company’s answer to Echo and its onboard voice assistant Alexa at the company’s annual developer’s conference. Sources familiar with the product suggest that it will be available on the market by this fall. The device will be one of the first to go toe-to-toe with Amazon’s Echo, which has already sold an estimated three million units.
The consumer technology market seems ripe for this kind of product. As devices dedicated to a specific set of purposes become more common, the race is on to develop the one gadget that will truly change the way people interact with their technology. As voice recognition software becomes increasingly available and useful, companies are seeking to employ the technology in new ways.
Amazon’s Echo offers a glimpse into this new space for consumer technology. The box, which sits unimposingly on a countertop or side table, can be used to hail a car from Uber, order food and other household items, and access the wealth of information waiting to be found on the internet. The winner in this space will be the company who can pinpoint the consumer’s biggest needs and fulfill them with pleasing simplicity and ease.
According to Julie A. Ask, an analyst from Forrester Research, “Amazon, Facebook, Apple and others are all heading towards the virtual agent. Google has seemingly let the competition catch up – level the playing field, even. It’s all the more critical that they do well here, given earlier misses on instant messaging and social media.”
While Google has declined to comment on the product ahead of its unveiling at this year’s developer conference, bits and pieces of information have already been leaked for the public to chew on. The product’s voice assistant will be powered by the same tech used in Android phones, initiated by the catchphrase, “Okay, Google.”
While the product stands to make home consumers happy, many critics have raised questions about privacy. With a device that’s always listening for the next command, consumers are rightly worried that the company may be employing a clever new tactic for mining all types of information.
According to a statement from Google’s CEO Sundar Pichai, “We’re making everything contextually aware. We want to know when you’re at home, with your kids.”