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Google Assistant-powered smart displays take on Alexa’s this summer

by Justin Herrick | May 9, 2018May 9, 2018 7:00 am PST

Soon you’ll be able to talk to Google Assistant as usual but get information shown on a screen rather than by just hearing. The digital assistant will be sold on smart displays beginning in July. Google announced that its partners are putting the finishing touches on their smart displays with release dates set for the summer.

The smart displays were announced at CES 2018 earlier this year, but Google held off on saying anything else until I/O 2018 this week. During its keynote, the company revealed an upcoming summertime showdown between Google Assistant and Alexa on smart displays.

Partners include JBL, Lenovo, LG, and Sony. The hardware may look different between those four brands, but the functionality will be identical.

Google is taking on its biggest competitor in the connected home arms race with these smart displays.

Amazon proved the viability of smart displays in 2017 when the Echo Show and Echo Spot launched. Users communicate with Alexa as they have for years, but now the digital assistant can utilize a screen to show visuals as it responds.

On smart displays, Google Assistant will behave like Alexa. You’re still going to call attention to the digital assistant with “OK Google” or “Hey Google.” The advantage here, however, is that you’re tapping into Google’s incredible knowledge graph as well as services like Google Maps and YouTube. You should be able to get a lot more detail on Google Assistant-powered smart displays than on Alexa-powered units.

JBL, Lenovo, LG, and Sony have yet to share specific dates and pricing for their smart displays. With sales beginning in two months, those companies should be saying something in the coming weeks.

Later this year, Google could also introduce a smart display of its own. The company didn’t confirm or deny the development of such a product when asked in April. Google announces new devices every fall, and a smart display might be part of the big push into hardware.


Justin Herrick

Justin is easily attracted to power buttons. His interest in technology started as a child in the 1990s with the original PlayStation, and two...

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