Google could be launching a rival to the Amazon Echo Show
The news comes from TechCrunch, which cites “multiple sources” having told them a Google-built “tabletop smart screen for video calling and more” is on the way. It’s thought that Google would reveal the new device as part of its 4 October hardware announcement where the Pixel 2 and Pixel XL 2, Google Home Mini and Pixelbook are expected to be unveiled.
The new device has an internal codename of “Manhattan” and is supposed to have a 7in screen – similar to that of the Echo Show. Both of TechCrunch’s sources state it will offer YouTube, Google Assistant, Google Photos and video calling – it’s also supposed to be a complete home hub with Nest and smart-home devices running through it.
Google has been working on the device for a while now, and reportedly the release of the Echo Show has encouraged Google to get “Manhattan” out of the door in 2017. However, TechCrunch caveats that it may not turn up until 2018. The ability to work across multiple smart-home devices can be technically difficult to achieve, and Google may also want to try to form partnerships with retailers ahead of launch.
The new screen-enabled Google Home will apparently run on Android to help furnish it with apps and functionality more quickly than Google Home was. It’s also suggested that the development team are keen to get the Netflix app onto the device, essentially turning the device into a small TV for the kitchen.
Google’s decision to pull YouTube from the Echo Show now makes more sense, as it wants to save the functionality for its own platform. Amazon explained to The Verge that the move was Google’s own decision “without explanation and without notification to customers”, highlighting that “there is no technical reason for [the] decision”.
Google’s reasoning was equally woolly, citing that “Amazon’s implementation of YouTube on the Echo Show violates our terms of service, creating a broken user experience”.
As silly as I feel the Echo Show is – especially as the Echo Spot is much better looking – a competing Google device makes a lot of sense.
Google has a bigger userbase than Amazon, and it already has popular video and messaging apps. YouTube is the most popular video-streaming service around, and integration with Google Photos and Gmail could be handy. Developers won’t have to grapple with a new operating system, thanks to its Android integration, meaning they can furnish it with apps very quickly.
However, as Google’s smart home initiatives launched a year after Amazon’s, it may see itself losing ground to Echo devices. Still, “Manhattan” has the potential to be blissfully straightforward if Google can pull it off.