When we first heard about Google's Android Things platform in 2016 (and even earlier when it was Project Brillo) the idea was that it could bring additional intelligent capabilities to all kinds of electronics. However, in the years since AI helpers like Google Assistant have moved control and smarts to the cloud, while the smartest devices in your home are still just... speakers and displays. Now Google has announced that it's "refocusing" Android Things on those two types of devices. Over the past year, Google has worked closely with partners to create consumer products powered by Android Things with the Google Assistant built-in. Given the successes we have seen with our partners in smart speakers and smart displays, we are refocusing Android Things as a platform for OEM partners to build devices in those categories moving forward.
It's hard to imagine Apple and Google playing nice on a device, but that can be the case starting today. That is, for music streaming, anyway. Google announced today that Apple Music is now rolling out to Assistant-enabled speakers and displays like the Nest Audio, Nest Hub Max, Nest Mini and more. Apple Music subscribers can ask the Assistant to find and play your songs, albums and playlists using their voice after they link their accounts in the Google Home app. You'll be able to set Apple Music as your default music streaming service, and then when you ask your speaker to "play K-Pop Hits playlist," it will stream from Apple's library.
The global smart speaker market is on the upswing, according to Canalys, which today released shipment estimates for the most recent fiscal quarter. The firm reports the segment grew 44% to reach 28.6 million units in Q3 2019, coinciding with substantial growth in the smart display category. Amazon shipped 10.4 million smart speakers in Q3 2019 for a 36.6% share of the market this quarter, up from 6.3 million units in Q3 2018 (a 31.9% That put it well ahead of rival Google, which managed to get 3.5 million devices out the door this quarter (for a 12.3% share) versus 5.9 million units in Q3 2018 (29.8%). As for Baidu and Alibaba, the latter notched 3.9 million units shipped in Q3 2019 (for a 13.6% share of the smart speaker market), up from 2.2 million in Q3 2018 (11.1%), while Baidu sold through to consumers 3.7 million units in Q3 2019 (for a 13.1% share), up from 1 million units in Q3 2018 (4.9%).
Last January Google quietly did away with the existing Guest Mode feature, which allows people not on your Wi-Fi network to connect with a Chromecast or smart speaker by entering a four-digit PIN, from its Home and Nest devices on account that some people and pets could hear the ultrasonic frequencies the two devices use to pair. Today, in the culmination of online privacy efforts the company first announced back in October, users will be able to turn off the voice recording features of their smart display and speaker like the Nest Audio or Nest Hub Max simply by telling it to. This new Guest Mode is basically like Chrome’s Incognito tabs.
The Google Assistant--the all-knowing digital voice that reverberates throughout the house every time you ask your Google Home a question--is about to get a lot smarter. This week at Google I/O (a developer's conference), Google detailed some of the new abilities coming to its digital assistant platform, which lives inside smartphones, smart speakers, and various other connected devices. The Google Assistant is on its way to becoming more conversational and easier to use, and it's even coming to the screen later this summer. You can try some of these features right now, but not all of its new abilities are available to the public just yet. And there's one feature in particular that might leave you feeling like it's a little ahead of its time.