Alphabet Inc. (GOOG)’s Google Launches Intelligent Speaker & VR Platform

Alphabet Inc (GOOG) Expedition

Alphabet Inc.’s Google on Wednesday launched an intelligent voice-enabled speaker dubbed “Google Home”. The launch occurred during its 2016 I/O developer meet, an event that also saw other products unveiled.

Alphabet Inc (GOOG) Expedition, Google VR

Google Home, which was secretly built under the name “Chirp”, will compete with Amazon.com, Inc.’s Echo. Interested customers will have to wait until later this year to get their hands on one, says Google CEO Sundar Pichai. It is stillnot clear how much the product will cost.

Device Similar to Amazon Echo in Some Ways

The new gadget is similar to Echo in some aspects, such as how it answers your queries and conducting two-way discussions. For example, you can ask which movies are playing at the local theaters, and Google will run a search and give responses.

The voice-activated device is also capable of performing other routine tasks such as request an Uber, order coffee or pizza, play music, besides checking flights or weather.

Partners that have thrown their weight behind Google Home include Uber, Instacart, WhatsApp, Ticketmaster, OpenTable, Pandora, Tuneln, Grubhub, Spotify, Saavn and many more.

The main difference between Google Home and Amazon Echo is that the latter is yet to include third-party developers in its development. Moreover, it is possible to install and use several Google Homes in different rooms in your house.

What is more: Home is integrated with Cast Support, which enables you to instruct any speaker to play music on other connected speakers. This is similar to how Google Cast Audio functions. Besides Google Play Music, other Cast-enabled services like Spotify are also compatible.

Though you can install the device in various rooms, Google Home won’t be able to work with multiple Google accounts at first. The company has said it is working to solve this hitch.

Google Launches Daydream VR Platform

Google also unveiled Daydream, which is a VR platform is set to be included in Android N, the company’s yet-to-be launched newest version of its mobile operating system.

Daydream aspires to ride on the success of Cardboard, which supports at least 50 million virtual reality apps and is due to be released to the market later this year. Google hopes that Daydream will be available in devices of various shapes and sizes. Daydream will first be available in high-end Android smartphones that run on the yet-to-be released Android N software.

Smartphone vendors who plan to make phones that have support for Daydream include LG, HTC, Xiaomi and Samsung. Companies such as Electronic Arts Inc and Netflix are developing their own services that are compatible with Daydream.

The Android-maker plans to create a specialized virtual reality segment in Play Store that caters for Daydream apps only. It is also creating special VR-compatible YouTube, Play Movies, Google Photos and Street View. Overall, it plans to create a Daydream ecosystem.

The Mountain View, Calif-based tech giant will unveil a virtual reality headset and controller that resembles that of Samsung Gear VR to enable its customers sample the VR experience. It has also issued a reference design that OEMs can rely on to develop their individual Daydream hardware.

The global VR industry is expected to register its first billion-dollar sales in 2016. Hardware sales are expected to hit $700 million, while content will account for the rest. Deloitte expects 2.5 million VR headsets to be sold and sales of games to hit 10 million copies. Though the company expects much of the sales this year to focus on video games, VR will eventually be used for other applications.
The VR market has a wider room for growth, considering that none of the current high-end smartphones can support it. The growth is therefore expected to materialize slowly as more players come into the fore.

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