- GE Appliances announced an update to its Wi-Fi connected home appliances, which now work directly with Google Assistant, the search giant's voice-powered digital assistant. People can say commands like, "Hey, Google, preheat the oven to 425 degrees," or ask, "Hey, Google, are my dishes clean?"
- The direct connection with Google Assistant removes the need to add an additional command when talking to GE appliances. Previously, product owners had to use the Geneva Home Action for voice commands, such as "Hey Google, ask Geneva Home to preheat the oven to 425 degrees."
- The change works with GE Appliances' connected refrigerators, ovens, dishwashers and washing machines, among other home appliances, all linked to the U+ Connect app to manage the devices.
GE Appliances' closer integration with Google Assistant comes as the search giant vies with Amazon for dominance in the market for smart home services. The direct connection with the digital assistant could make GE home appliances slightly easier to use than with Alexa, Amazon's digital assistant that has worked with GE products for the past couple of years. Amazon and GE in 2016 introduced a Geneva skill for Alexa that requires users say commands such as, "Alexa, tell Geneva to preheat the oven to 350 degrees," per CNet. This additional step may add some friction for users looking for a convenient method of controlling their kitchen's smart devices.
GE Appliances' announcement comes as Electrolux, the Swedish maker of home appliances, started integrating its connected kitchen products with Google Assistant. The voice integration will begin in smart ovens next year, Electrolux announced last week. With more appliance makers experimenting with connected home devices, the technology will continue to evolve and grow increasingly sophisticated and easy to use for consumers.
The digital assistant and smart speaker space continues to heat up. Global shipments of voice-powered smart speakers surged 278% to 9.2 million units in Q1 2018 from a year earlier. While Amazon shipped 4 million of those during the quarter, its market share slipped to 43.6% from 81.8% year-over-year, according to Strategy Analytics. The worldwide smart home devices market, comprised of smart speakers, digital media adapters, lighting, thermostats and other connected gadgets like GE's appliances, is forecast to grow 26.8% this year to 549.5 million total shipments, the International Data Corporation estimates.