Lenovo, JBL, Sony and LG will manufacture these smart displays with Google’s Android Things, comes with ‘enhanced’ privacy features.
The Amazon-Google war is only intensifying as the days pass and it is the consumers who are losing out to a lot of good things both of them have to offer together. However, Google has a bit of an upper hand as most of the reliable Internet-based services belong to it and to ensure Amazon gets the message right, they have unveiled a new Smart display lineup of devices at this year’s CES. Meet Google Smart Display — Google’s answer to Amazon Echo Show.
The Google Smart Display devices are bound to utilise the Android Things platform and will provide Google Assistant on demand. While you may think that the smaller Google Home can also do the same, the Smart Display adds value to the Assistant by giving it the luxury of a display to show things or help you make calls, just like Amazon’s Echo Show. However, unlike the Echo Show, the Google devices will have unmatched support for Google services, particularly Maps and YouTube — both of which rely on a display as the primary source of output.
As of now, Lenovo is the sole manufacturer of the Smart Display with two models — an 8-inch model and a 10-inch model. The Lenovo device needs to be connected to the socket and the Internet at all the times, just to make sure consumers don’t mistake these devices to be a tablet sitting on a desk. The UI on the devices is simple, with large and colourful cards that can be navigated through touch or voice commands. However, since Google allows OEMs to customise their ‘Google-branded’ offerings (although they don’t carry any sort of branding), Lenovo has vouched for enhanced privacy by adding a physical shutter for the front-facing camera and a mute button for the microphone — things that will appeal to those concerned with privacy.
Users will able to watch YouTube videos, browse Google Photos, undertake video calls through Duo and view weather (of course). There’s a lock screen showing time and notifications whereas the home screen generates an interface dominated by the Assistant’s cards. One major limitation right now is that third-party support isn’t yet available. For the geeks out there, it is powered by a Snapdragon 624 SoC accompanied by 2GB of RAM and 4GB of storage, which seems to more than enough for a device that aims to sit on the desk all day and listen to commands. The 8-inch model starts at $199 and the 10-inch model asks for $249.
JBL’s speaker also gave a glimpse with a slightly funky design, although the prices and the launch date for them haven’t been announced yet. Sony and LG have yet to show a Smart Display device. Now, it remains to be seen what Amazon comes up with as an answer. Will it come up with its own version of YouTube for its existing smart devices? Let us know what you think in the comments below.