Flickr/LeWeb. Art by Jeff Greco.
Future Society

Google is Rumored to be Developing an Echo Competitor

Was there ever any doubt that Google would do this?

fayeMarch 29th 2016

There was never any doubt that Google would be getting more involved in the Internet of Things (IoT) space. This time, the buzz is that the company is developing a device that will compete with Amazon’s Echo.

ECHO IMPACT

Amazon Echo. Credit: Amazon
Amazon Echo. Credit: Amazon

The Echo — a smart home speaker that comes with a Siri-like assistant named “Alexa” — was unveiled in November 2014 on limited release. It became widely available just last year, in June 2015.

The 23.5-centimeter (9.25-inch) tall cylinder speaker can fetch real-time information on traffic or the weather, set alarms, make to-do lists, play audio files, stream podcasts, and basically do a host of tasks that simplify your life. The one catch?

It’s priced at $199, a price tag that makes some wary.

But the Echo is not alone. There are a number of variations. The Amazon Tap allows the user to take the Echo on the move, and the Amazon Dot is the original Echo model sans speaker components. And now, it seems that others are stepping into the arena.

THE BIG SECRET

According to The Information, Google is now working on a “secret project” that’s believed to be a device that will go up against the Echo. So far, though, Google has managed to keep things under wraps, as no details of the still-unnamed device’s potential features or release date have been revealed.

Tech analysts have speculated that the “secret project” is most likely based on Google Now. Curiously enough, Google’s Nest Labs is not involved in the project.

Google bought Nest Labs — the home gadget maker company founded by iPod inventor Tony Fadell — in 2014. “Nest backed down [from the ‘secret project’] because it allegedly couldn’t find a way to align users’ privacy concerns with such a device,” writes David Murphy of PC magazine.

But although there are no clear details yet, they may be soon coming. The Google I/O conference is in May, and the company may go in more depth and possibly even discuss how the device would work with gadgets like Chromecast.

Until then, we can only imagine what Google is serving up next.

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