Google is getting ready to take on Amazon’s Echo Show, with a little help from 4 consumer electronics heavyweights: Sony, Lenovo, LG and JBL all announced at CES in Las Vegas Monday that they are building so-called smart displays powered by Google’s Assistant.
These smart displays essentially function like a smart, voice-controlled speaker combined with a stationary tablet, and are being build with kitchen-use in mind. Think Echo Show, but with Google Assistant instead of Alexa, and a bigger emphasis on the actual screen. Lenovo, for instance, will be offering two screen sizes (8 and 10 inches) at launch. Amazon’s Echo Show on the other hand comes with a 7-inch display.
Consumers will be able to ask these smart displays for recipes, weather and traffic, or get updates on their day’s schedule. Answers will be displayed visually as well as with voice feedback. These smart displays will also be Chromecast-compatible, so you’ll be able to cast videos from apps like Hulu and HBO Go to these devices.
Oh, and there’s one more thing Google Assistant-powered smart displays will be able to do: Play YouTube videos with the power of your voice, as Google helpfully pointed out in an introductory video.
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That’s notable because of an ongoing spat between Amazon and Google about Amazon’s use of YouTube on the Echo Show. Google blocked the device’s access to its video service in September, ostensibly because a violation of YouTube’s Terms of Service.
Amazon responded with a work-around, only to see YouTube yanked from the device again in December. Both companies said at the end of last year that they were in negotiations about resolving their differences, which also include Amazon’s refusal to sell Google products like the company’s Chromecast streaming adapter.
It remains to be seen whether Amazon will list the new Assistant-powered smart displays on its store. Lenovo said Monday that it plans to sell its smart displays this summer in two versions: An 8-inch display with a grey housing will cost $200, and a 10-inch version with a bamboo exterior will go for $250.