Google is taking on Amazon's newest Echo smart speakers with a little help from some friends GOOG, GOOGL, AMZNGet the Full StoryLenovo
Google Assistant, the company's smart voice assistant, is now installed on 400 million devices, including the Google Home speakers and certain Android phones.
Google is teaming up with partners including Lenovo to make "smart screens" voice-controlled tablets, like the Amazon Echo Show and Echo Spot.
These smart screens will have YouTube. In December, Google pulled YouTube support from all Amazon devices.
Google Assistant is also coming to Android Auto, the search giant's connected car software. It's also coming to new headphones and speakers.
Amazon's Alexa voice assistant dominated last year's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Now, CES is upon us once again, and Google is striking back with a little help from its friends.
First up: Google now says that Assistant, its rival to Amazon's Alexa, is on 400 million devices, including the Google Home smart speakers, certain Android phones like the Google Pixel 2, and other Google-powered gadgets. Amazon doesn't disclose a similar number for Alexa, but as of October, CEO Jeff Bezos had pegged it around 20 million.
More importantly, Google is announcing a new line of "smart screens" that are powered by its Assistant but manufactured by partners including JBL, Lenovo, Sony, and LG. They'll be available starting later this year, Google says, with Lenovo introducing 8-inch and 10-inch screen models at 199 and 249 "this summer."
"The speakers are great, but there's lots that hard to do just in a voice-only way," Google Assistant VP Scott Huffman tells Business Insider.
These devices will be primarily controlled with your voice, but also offer a touchscreen, much like Amazon's recent Echo Show and Echo Spot speakers. With just your voice, you can pull up photos from your Google Photos library, make video calls with the Google Duo service, and, notably, play YouTube videos potentially a big selling point for these devices, given Google recently yanked support for YouTube from Amazon Echo and Fire TV devices.
Here's a Google video showing what you can expect from these smart screens:
Youtube Embed:http: www.youtube.com embed ARA0AxrnHdMWidth: 560pxHeight: 315px
Huffman tells Business Insider that the search giant is still committed to building its own Assistant-powered hardware, as evidenced by the recently-launched 49 Google Home Mini and 399 Google Home Max speakers.
The first smart screens are being made by Google partners, and not Google itself, for the simple reason that those partners asked, says Huffman. He says that there was a lot of "excitement" about bringing the Google Assistant to screen-based devices from those manufacturers, so Google moved to assist.
The advantage of this model is that each partner can make a smart screen that appeals to different audiences: Some may have better sound quality, others may focus on screen size or price.
Even more gadgetry
But wait, there's more.
Google is also announcing:
Starting this week, Google Assistant is coming to Android Auto, the system for connecting select Android phones up to certain car infotainment systems. Google boasts that Android Auto is now available on 400 models from Ford, GM, Nissan, and other car manufacturers.
LG, JBL, Jaybird and Sony are all making Google Assistant-enabled headphones that will let you access the Assistant with the press of a button assuming you've paired them with your phone.
Google Assistant is coming to speakers made by Bang & Olufsen, LG, Anker, Altec Lansing, and more.
More Android TVs will be getting Google Assistant in the coming months.
A new directory of "actions," or apps, for the Google Assistant, to make it easier to add new capabilities.
The general theme is that Google Assistant is coming to more devices, and ideally getting more useful.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images
It's worth noting that Amazon is following the same playbook with Alexa: Partners like Kohler, Garmin, and First Alert already used CES to announce that they're building Alexa into their own devices. And even though Google Assistant has that 400-million-strong install base, analysts say there are still more Amazon Echos than Google Homes in the world.
Huffman acknowledges that Google isn't the only player in the market, but says that companies have been flocking to work with the Google Assistant. Google's strength in search technology and its investments in artificial intelligence have convinced partners that Google Assistant is poised for success, Huffman says.
"There's a belief that this is in the wheelhouse of what Google can do," he says.NOW WATCH: A guy who reviews gadgets for a living spent a week with the iPhone X and the Pixel 2 the winner was clear