Google has long been the king of search, building its empire by answering questions, giving directions and helping people settle arguments with its vast database of facts.
But as more people search using their voice — verbally asking questions to Apple’s Siri or Amazon Echo’s Alexa — instead of typing queries into their phones or laptops, the tech giant risks ceding some of that dominance.
To future-proof itself from competitors, the Mountain View, Calif., tech firm announced Tuesday a new slate of electronic devices that support voice search and come pre-installed with Google Assistant, the company’s artificial intelligence bot that can do a wide variety of things, including answering queries and making restaurant reservations.
To that end, Alphabet Inc., Google’s parent company, also rolled out its answer to the Amazon Echo — a cylindrical household gadget called Google Home [pictured above].
Google is positioning the device as the ultimate virtual home assistant, with the ability to answer spoken queries, play music from YouTube, Spotify, Pandora, and iHeartRadio, use voice controls for connected home devices from the Google-owned Nest, Samsung and Phillips, and even control Netflix.
Just say “OK, Google” in its presence and it’s at your service.
Answering questions plays to Google’s strengths, but hardware has generally been a weakness for the company. Its Nexus smartphones lagged behind the iPhone and Samsung’s Galaxy phones, and its entry into augmented reality via the face-mounted Google Glass was a much-mocked flop.
This latest push into hardware is less about wanting to compete as a hardware maker, according to analysts, and more about being where…