Voice assistance has become the global go-to aide. And Google Assistant, the AI software running on Android devices and their Smart Speaker System, is now capable of supporting more than 5000 devices, says a new announcement from Google. The list of merchandise supported includes doorbells, cameras, security systems, dryers,dishwashers, refrigerators to name a few.
Showing exceptional growth, the company had around 1500 supported devices in January 2018. The concept is to flip a normal living room into a center for entertainment designating a smartphone as the main controller for all the gadgets and gizmos within the house.
Google has been actively working to support the devices from various top electronics brands as it recently declared to offer support for IKEA lights and Deutsche Telekom’s Magenta hub of products.
The agenda for Google for the current month is the integration with DISH’s Hopper family of set-top boxes; security alarm devices from ADT, First Alert and Vivint Smart Home; door locks from August and Schlage; and residential security cameras from Panasonic.Many other tech giants like LG, Hunter Douglas and Hisense are also eager to add Google Assistant compatibility to their devices in the coming time.
Facing stiff competition from Amazon who recently integrated the Alexa voice assistant with around 4000 devices, Google is ahead of rivals like Apple’s HomeKit and Samsung’s SmartThings.
"This race is a sprint from the beginning," said Josh Crandall, principal analyst at Netpop Research.
"It looks like Google and Amazon are breaking away from Siri -- HomeKit -- in the first lap," he told TechNewsWorld. "There's no doubt that Google considers this race incredibly important and recognizes it is playing catch-up to Amazon's Alexa product."
But with a large system of developers, Google is working to bring ahead its own technology to win this war with Amazon. "By making the announcement, Google is letting the industry know that it's serious about unlocking the potential of Google Home," said Crandall.
"Developers and [Internet of Things] companies will take heed that 5,000 devices are interwoven into the fabric of Google Home, and start developing for the platform if they haven't already begun to do so," he predicted.
"In other words, Google is saying 'Look at all of the third-party development happening on our platform. If you don't support Google Home, watch out, because we're here to stay,'" Crandall said.
Another factor is the insignificance of such products for most of the shoppers, as most of them would not replace the existing products just to add an extra function. "The total number of supported devices [won't] have much to do with success or market staying power of these branded AI-based services," explained Paul Teich, principal analyst at Tirias Research.
"This is really about adding value to consumers' lives," he told TechNewsWorld, "but the only standards that matters here are 'does the system give me a useful answer to my question?' and 'did it do exactly what I asked it to do?'"
Thus the number of supported devices may not matter much at this point.
"APIs are easy to adjust for, or even to use multiple services," Teich pointed out.
Consumers ultimately will decide which platform or platforms will be winners in the smart home market. "Amazon has an upper hand here. It is already directly connected to more consumers in a more intimate fashion than Google, and Amazon is more connected to Apple customers," suggested Teich.
However, "it doesn't really matter how many consumers are actually integrating these products into the platform yet," noted Netpop's Crandall.
"All they need to know is that when they are ready to integrate smart home appliances into their smart speakers, the speaker they have selected will have sufficient support," he added.
The ultimate competition might come down to just 2 platforms each offering customers some choice. "Similar to the need to support Android and iOS, developers and IoT companies may have to support a couple of platforms for voice interfaces," said Crandall.
"In a similar vein, you'll notice that there are only two major smartphone operating systems," he added. "Developers can't support three, and as a result Windows Phone has disappeared. It's clear that the momentum in this space belongs to Amazon and Google. If something doesn't change soon, Siri and HomeKit will be sitting the rest of this race out."
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