Alexa, make way for competition. Alphabet Inc. (GOOG) subsidiary Google is planning to boost the presence of its artificial intelligence (AI) assistant across a wide-ranging ecosystem to better compete with Amazon.com, Inc.'s (AMZN) Alexa. (See also: How Does Google Home Compare With Amazon's Alexa?)
For starters, Google announced integration of its smart assistant with Apple Inc.'s (AAPL) iPhones at its I/O developer conference today. The assistant is available as a standalone app that can be downloaded by users. It will integrate with other Google apps on the iPhone, such as the YouTube app, and take commands via voice. In addition to the iPhone integration, Google is said to be working on integrating the assistant into home appliances made by General Electric Company (GE). Such appliances include washing machines and refrigerators. (See also: Industries Poised to Gain From IoT in 2017.)
The Mountain View, California-based company also introduced Google Lens, which, in the company's words, "allows computers to see." This means that Google Assistant can be used to identify objects and places visually or perform associated actions. Google also said that it is planning to release Google Home, a smart speaker device similar to Amazon Echo, in Australia, Canada, France, Germany and Japan later this year. The assistant is also expected to support seven additional languages soon.
Google's push toward making its AI assistant popular mirrors that of Amazon, the leader in this category of devices. The Seattle-based company has introduced a number of new initiatives, from fellowships to open-sourcing, to popularize its platform. At the same time, Alexa is being used for call centers and is being integrated into home appliances. The market for virtual assistants has heated up in recent times, with the likes of Apple and Microsoft Corporation (MSFT) entering or upgrading their existing offerings. For example, Microsoft recently announced similar integration of its smart assistant Cortana across platforms, enabling the assistant to perform tasks such as transferring photos between devices or saving articles for later reading. (See also: Microsoft, Harman Team for Rival to Amazon Echo.)