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Google Exec Confirms Plans to Bring Voice Assistant to Third-Party Home Audio Hardware

Google Assistant Confirmed for Third-Party Home
Shutterstock / Teerada

Google’s Assistant won’t be limited to Google-made devices for long: The company is having conversations with home audio equipment makers to add the voice-powered assistant to third-party hardware, confirmed Google’s consumer hardware VP of product management Mario Queiroz Tuesday.

Queiroz made the comments on the sidelines of Google’s fall hardware event in San Francisco, where the company officially introduced its new Google Home smart speaker. Google Home is a bit like Google’s version of Amazon’s Echo speaker; the device allows consumers to launch music playback, ask for news and weather reports, query their calendar or even add items to their shopping list, all with simple voice commands.

Google Home is being powered by Google Assistant, which Google CEO Sundar Pichai described as the company’s attempt to “build each user his or her own personal Google.”

Variety was first to report last week that Google has been in talks with consumer electronics manufacturers to build their own versions of Google Home. Queiroz confirmed Tuesday that Google has had conversations with companies that have added Google’s Cast technology to their Wifi-connected speakers to also add Google’s Assistant.

A source with knowledge of Google’s plans had told Variety that Google wouldn’t allow companies to add other assistants, like Amazon’s Alexa, to their hardware if they were using Google Cast. Queiroz declined  to comment on unannounced policies, but said that Google has in the past been willing to allow some promiscuity, for example by allowing speaker manufacturers to also use competing wireless streaming technologies like Apple’s AirPlay in addition to Cast.

He added that companies may also add the Assistant to their hardware if they don’t use Cast. Google also announced an upcoming program Tuesday that will even allow hobbyists to add support for Google Assistant to their hardware projects.

Queiroz went on to explain that Google plans to make Google Home support part of the Google Cast SDK, meaning that developers who have added support for Google’s Chromecast Audio streaming adapter to their music or podcast streaming apps will also be able to closely integrate these apps with Google Home at some point.

For now, Google is only working with select partners on these kinds of direct integrations. All others will soon have another way to get onto Google Home: Google announced Tuesday that it will allow developers to build so-called “actions” for the Assistant in December, making it possible to define voice-based interactions to answer questions, launch media playback or even order products or services online.