Amazon Echo Started a Trend, and Google Now is Following

Published: Wed, 18 May 2016

The battle for the interface is becoming the defining story of the Smarthome, and Amazon has lead the way with its wildly popular Echo. As a testament to its success, Google today announced Google Home. Google is describing it as "a voice-activated remote for the home".

Google already had many of the elements of an assistant in its other products, like voice search and Google Now. The company is not new to natural language processing, machine learning and artificial intelligence, the building blocks of a smart assistant. Google/Alphabet/Nest also have a lot of irons in the fire for the smart home and consumer IoT, what with Thread, Weave and Brillo. And of course the expectation is that this will integrate with their Nest products, although there is no mention as to when this will happen.

So the pitch seems promising, but the question is whether Google can bring all these ingredients together and cook up something that will satisfy customers' appetites the way Echo has. The opportunity for Google is to leverage all of these in-house ingredients to provide a much more seamless experience. Amazon has made Alexa wide open to developers via APIs, but that can result in a lot of work for users. Conversely, Google Home is currently API-less, which may constrain the ecosystem in the near term, precisely when Google is trying to play catch-up.

Which all leads to my next question, what the heck is Apple up to? They've been accused of a me-too strategy since Jobs left, so why stop now?

This is going to be fun to watch.

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