Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant are trying to get involved with CES 2020 – CNET

Google booth CES 2020

Google booth CES 2020

Google's CES booth contained a number of colorful slides that were fed into a ball pit.

James Martin / CNET

This story is part of CES 2020, our complete coverage of the showroom and the latest technical equipment.

At an after-hour party at Amazon CES Shaquille O & # 39; Neal and Guy Fieri were jokingly joking when the two celebrities poured a hot, reddish cocktail they had made using Amazon's Alexa.

In the meantime, the search giant built an elaborate one on Google's large, two-story stand in front of the Las Vegas Convention Center Escape the attraction in the room style to present its competing product: Google Assistant. As part of the experience, participants shouted voice commands as they moved through a market and private kitchen. Meanwhile, a narrator made fun of the guests through a loudspeaker.

The two biggest names in language technology use CES, the global technology meeting in Las Vegas, to stand up for their digital helper. Every company wants its assistant to be at the center of what it hopes for a voice-controlled future.

As in the past, Amazon and Google have tried to improve each other by introducing a number of new business partnerships, devices and language features to convince even more companies and customers to join their ecosystems.

CNET reporters Richard Nieva, who writes about Google, and Ben Fox Rubin, who reports on Amazon, were in Las Vegas this week. They discussed whether Amazon or Google made a bigger impression on the show.

Nieva: At this point, Google and Amazon have been fighting it at CES for three years.

rub: Yes, it has taken long enough that much of what they do at the fair has become predictable. "We added Google Assistant to this new doodad." Http:// "We partnered with this new company to add Alexa functionality to this thing."

Nieva: Google definitely has a formula. And they haven't done much to deviate from it this year. They build a large stand with wonderful experiences for the guests. They hire an army of people dressed all in white to explain to conference participants how the assistant works. The "Hey Google" label is affixed to the monorail in Las Vegas.

But the company has actually eased a bit this year. The booth was more reserved than last year when they built a theme park ride with the motto "It & # 39; s a Small World". Do not get me wrong. The escape room was complex, but not that great.


The company showed its new partnership with Lamborghini at Amazon's Alexa booth in Venice.

Ben Fox Rubin / CNET

rub: For comparison: I would say Amazon has expanded its presence at the fair this year with three separate exhibits that exhibit gadgets operated by Alexa, partnerships with car manufacturers and ring home security devices. To add a bit of the Vegas pizzazz, they brought not just one, but two lipstick-red Lamborghini sports cars to the display floors to highlight their work, where Alexa controls were built into these vehicles.

Daniel Rausch, Smart Home Manager at Amazon, took me through the Alexa exhibition at the Venetian to show me all the smart home things that the voice assistant is used for, including a refrigerator, board games, and a device the individual dog food is spit out, and even a bed that plays music. In the future, he said the company wanted to add more features to Alexa to make it more useful. It's not just about stuffing AI into more things.

Nieva: Google's product announcements were also slightly smaller than last year. At CES 2019, Google introduced an interpreter mode for the assistant, with which two people can have a conversation and speak different languages. We saw an impressive live demo last year. And it was ready for use: The company launched a pilot program at the hotel concierge desk.

This year, the unveiling of the great product was a screen read feature that enabled the Assistant for reading long text, like articles and blog posts, aloud with a natural sounding voice. Cool too, but Google called the announcement a "preview" and, disappointingly, didn't let reporters try it out for themselves.

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Google shows the power of the assistant


rub: Amazon introduced a lot of new Alexa gadgets at the show, though I think none of these products have seen a breakthrough this time. Kohler showed one two years ago Alexa-powered toilet, and you have noticed a lot. A new set of wireless earbuds will not have the same effect.

The company has also partnered with ExxonMobil to leave customers with Alexa in their cars Pay for gasoline at 11,500 stations across the country just by asking the assistant at the pump.

Nieva: Google's biggest announcement was not a product feature at all. It was a statistic: 500 million people use the wizard every month. It’s the first time that Google publishes user numbers for the service. A handful of other Google products each have at least a billion users, including Maps, Chrome, and Drive. This assistant is there halfway. It is a noteworthy milestone.

rub: For Amazon, the company has revealed that there is now "Hundreds of millions" of Alexa gadgets Worldwide more than twice as much as announced at the last CES.

Nieva: However, it should be noted here that these numbers are cloudy. Google said last year that the wizard was running on a billion devices. However, most of these devices are Android phones with the wizard preinstalled. What does "hundreds of millions" really mean?

rub: I agree. These companies are annoyingly vague about this material.

It wasn't just good news on the Amazon side either. Ring, a home security company owned by Amazon under great pressure at the fair After a handful of problematic vulnerabilities in the past few months. Ring's CEO has spoken a lot this week about how they are working to improve privacy and security, but it was obvious that they now need to rebuild trust and their new CES product revelations have been completely overshadowed ,

Nieva: Yes, that's an area where Google received a pass. Do not get me wrong. The company faces a lot of controversy: multiple antitrust investigations, a troubled workforce, and the challenge of removing toxic content on YouTube. Regarding product controversy, however, Google didn't go under the pressure Amazon had with Ring during the week.


Amazon's Alexa stand in the Venetian

Ben Fox Rubin / CNET

rub: So, all in all, which of these companies do you think got the most attention at the show and did what they wanted to do?

Nieva: I thought last year Google did the better job, But this year it felt just like it did in the company.

rub: Despite Ring's ongoing difficulties, Amazon has integrated Alexa into the structure of CES and thus into so many devices at the event. So I would say that they do better this time and win against Google this year.

Nieva: I agree. Give it to Amazon this year.

However, neither of the two companies was in the spotlight at CES 2020. There were other things that fueled people's imaginations. Everyone was talking about it Impossible pork and neon, a Samsung company that creates AI avatars that look like people.

rub: We hope that CES 2021 includes a hyper-realistic AI-controlled Impossible Chicken Wing that is supported by Alexa or maybe Google Assistant. Well, that would be pretty cute.