Google, not to be outdone by Amazon’s new Echo Spot and Echo Plus, is reportedly developing a screen-sporting version of its Google Home smart speaker. The tabletop tablet, which is reportedly code-named Manhattan, could launch by the end of 2017.
The Manhattan resembles Amazon’s Echo Show, according to TechCrunch, and is an Alexa-powered mounted tablet with a 7-inch screen, a front camera, and high-speed Wi-Fi. It will support Google apps like YouTube, Google Photos, and Google Play Movies and TV when it launches later this year, and will offer video calling and always-on access to the Google Assistant.
Like the current generation of Home speakers, it will act as a hub for smart home devices like Philips Hue bulbs, GE appliances, Nest thermostats, and more. And it’s said to run Android, the Google-made operating system on billions of phones, tablets, set-top boxes, and smartwatches around the world.
Part of the Manhattan’s motivation is to catch up with other market entrants, according to TechCrunch. The Google Home team is under “intense internal pressure” to expand the company’s smart speaker lineup, and it’s no mystery why. Analysts at CIRP estimate that Google Home, which launched about a year after the first-generation Amazon Echo, has a 24-percent share of the U.S. home automation market compared to the Echo lineup’s 76 percent.
Timing isn’t on Google’s side. At a press event in late September, Amazon announced five new Echo devices at every price range: The $150 Echo Plus, the $130 Echo Spot, the $50 Echo, the $35 Echo Connect, and Echo Buttons. Apple’s HomePod, a self-contained speaker powered by Siri, is expected to launch in December. And Facebook is said to be developing Aloha, a 15-inch touchscreen smart speaker with support for voice commands and audio calling.
But the search giant is reportedly tackling the problem from all angles. A report earlier this month revealed Google Home Mini, a smart home speaker with a smaller profile and lower price tag than Google Home. And a subsequent leak revealed Google Home Max, a high-end stereo system with built-in support for the Google Assistant.
Manhattan will presumably sit on higher end of the pricing spectrum, but TechCrunch wasn’t able to confirm pricing. And there’s a good chance that the screen-touting smart speaker, which was originally pegged for early 2018, might be delayed. Sources tell the publication that Google is in ongoing negotiations with component and supply chain partners, and that third-party content partnerships — including one with Netflix — have yet to be finalized.
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