When it comes to the super valuable tech market, Amazon and Google make strange bedfellows. The two may have applications on one another’s mobile operating systems, but this doesn’t mean they always play nice with each other. In the end, they make similar products in a similar space, and this is bound to make the two competitors at some point down the line.
Now, according to the media, Google seems to be working on a product that will go toe-to-toe with Amazon’s mobile Assistant Echo. If Amazon’s original Echo doesn’t quite ring a bell, the tiny-but-powerful little speaker first popped into markets in November 2014. The speaker lets users do things like get the weather, play and shuffle music tracks, and much more all by using the power of their voice. While the idea of using voice commands isn’t exactly new, the concept of speaking into a device other than a mobile phone hasn’t been done before — until now.
ArsTechnica got the scoop on the new Echo lookalike, which they noted is specifically tagged as being a competitor to Amazon’s current Echo speaker.
“Previously, the well-sourced Artem Russakovskii of Android Police briefly mentioned an Amazon Echo competitor in development at Google, codenamed “Chirp.’“
It’s possible “Chirp” could give the current Android mobile assistant, Google Now, a run for its money, but not likely to stop all users from employing Google Now’s voice recognition altogether. Additionally, Google Now is built directly into an Android user’s smartphone, and wouldn’t have the additional cost of buying more hardware along with it. As it stands now, Amazon does not have anything built into its Fire Phones that can stack up to Google Now, and there don’t seem to be signs it will add such a feature anytime soon.
If users want to get the functionality of a mobile assistant, the Amazon Echo will run them almost $200. Android Police‘s report that Amazon is offering limited-feature versions of Echo at lower price points might suggest that the hefty price tag is hurting Echo.
Mashable noted that Google will be holding its I/O Developer Conference in May 2016, so we may get to learn more about this mysterious Echo competitor. The site also noted that Google has a more powerful and full-featured engine to handle voice commands with, and this could be implemented into their secret anti-Echo device. Additionally, Google’s microphone seems to pick up almost every request with close-to-perfect accuracy, so this could also give Chirp a leg up over Echo.
Amazon Echo’s sleek cylindrical design does give it some unique advantages as well, though. When Echo’s users play music, for instance, the room is filled with 360 degree audio, something few other tech products can accomplish. Echo can also read your audiobooks to you, and is consistently evolving to learn new skills and tricks. Echo also gives users the chance to pick unique “skins” to customize its speakers, though some of these cost an extra fee.
Google’s current voice recognition prowess is tied directly into its Android phones, allowing people to turn their flashlight on and off with voice commands, for instance. It’s possible they could harness this power for Chirp when or if the new guy hits shelves and tie their speaker into Android devices.
It’s been evident for a while that Google is interested in Near Field Communication (the art of touching two devices together to exchange info wirelessly). Could we potentially see a voice command or commands that let users exchange information wirelessly between Android phones and Google’s new brainchild?
[Image Via Brewbooks, Wikimedia Commons, CC-BY SA 2.0]