Your Shield TV is now voice operated with the addition of Google Assistant

Shield TV

As announced at the 2017 CES, Nvidia has revealed that the newest version of its Shield TV OS now includes Google Assistant functionality. You can download the update now and start using your Google Assistant as a hands-free voice-activated assistant in a variety of ways. Also included is SmartThings integration, allowing your Shield device to work as a SmartThings Hub.

Similar to how it now works on your phone, your Google Assistant will respond to voice commands and display information directly on the television screen, everything from calendars to reminders to more information about the show you’re watching.

Shield TV works with streaming apps like Netflix, Hulu, HBO, and other similar services. New and existing Shield owners also get three free months of YouTube Red, the premium version of the popular video app.

The new functionality may have an extra appeal to gamers, especially with Shield’s voice-activated controller. “While some, like Fire TV, do games, they don’t do them particularly well – and this is where Shield TV tends to shine,” Rob Enderle of the Enderle Group told TechNewsWorld. “For those willing to pay a bit extra for a higher level of performance, and particularly for those that want to either play PC games streamed from their PC or have a better Android gaming experience, this is the solution they’ll likely prefer.”

Not only can you control the streaming television with commands like “rewind” and “pause,” you can also ask for more information about a particular actor or how your favorite sports team is faring and the answer will be displayed instantly on your screen, rather than communicated vocally.

Nvidia has also partnered with Samsung for SmartThings control. The Shield can act as a SmartThings Hub, allowing you voice control of many smarthome devices on platforms such as Z-wave and Zigbee. The SmartThings Link, a dongle that plugs into the Shield USB port, will soon be available for a promotional price of $14.99 (normally $39.99).

The set-top box market is already quite crowded, and some analysts are not sure the addition of Google Assistant will expand the Shield TV user base. However, Josh Crandall, principal analyst at Netpop Research, says there’s more at play here. “The real story here is happening behind the scenes,” he said. “It’s the competition between Google and Amazon – so pulling YouTube from Amazon’s Echo Show is a sign that Google is concerned about how integrated Amazon has become.”

The Shield Experience Update 6.0 is now available for download on Shield devices from Nvidia.