Alphabet Inc.’s Google launched a US$99 Nest Audio speaker and a new Chromecast TV device, seeking to hold off Amazon.com Inc. and other competitors from grabbing more consumers in the smart home market.
The Nest Audio replaced the mid-tier Google Home speaker and uses a new fabric-heavy design similar to recent updates to Google’s lower-end home speakers. The new device has technology from the higher-end Google Home Max that lets the speaker adapt its sound by understanding its location in the environment.
Google has been locked in back-and-forth lawsuits with Sonos Inc. regarding audio technology patents, with Sonos suing the Mountain View, California-based search giant as recently as Tuesday regarding five patents. The patents at the heart of the lawsuit involve a speaker’s ability to adjust its output based on its location, streaming music from the cloud and interacting with other speakers, all features the new Nest model includes.
Other new features of the Nest speaker include improved bass and clearer sound, Google said Wednesday during a brief virtual product launch.
Google has about 31 per cent of the smart speaker market, compared with 53 per cent for Amazon and less than 3 per cent for Apple Inc., according to data from Voicebot Research.
The new speaker comes in multiple colors, similar to other smart speakers like Apple’s HomePod. The iPhone maker is working on a smaller and cheaper speaker, while Amazon launched several redesigned Echo speakers earlier this month.
Google announced the Nest Audio along with its new TV device during the product event.
The new TV device, the US$49.99 Chromecast with Google TV, has a new oval, versus circular look, includes a Google-branded remote control with voice command, Netflix and YouTube buttons, an updated TV operating system called Google TV, and, like previous models, plugs into a television via an HDMI port.
Google TV is a re-branded version of Android TV with a redesigned user interface and can offer viewing recommendations from across services like YouTube. Google said the operating system will come to several other Android TV devices as well.