- Google's voice-activated Google Assistant now recognizes bilingual queries, according to a blog post. The company's smart assistant can handle queries made in any pairing of English, German, French, Spanish, Italian and Japanese, and with more language support to come later.
- Google also said that its Assistant will be built into a wide range of European voice-activated speakers, smart displays and smart-home devices such as thermostats, security systems, lighting and appliances.
- New smartphones like the LG G7 One, SHARP Simple Smartphone 4 and Vivo NEX S now feature dedicated Google Assistant buttons. The company is also integrating Google Assistant in more headphones, including the JBL Everest GA, LG Tone Platinum and Earin M-2 models.
Google's slew of announcements this week about Google Assistant shows that the company is making a major effort to expand in the European market, especially in bilingual homes. Europe has become the latest battleground for smart-speaker dominance between Google and Amazon, the market leaders in the United States. As more U.S. brands develop voice-activated engagements, those with international customer bases will be paying close attention to each platform's capabilities when deciding where to place their bets.
Google is also demonstrating that it's not attached to a hardware platform as the company seeks to remain competitive with rivals like Amazon, Apple and Samsung that also have digital assistants. This platform-agnostic approach comes even as Google's global share of smart speaker shipments rose from 16% in Q2 2017 to 28% in Q2 2018 and Amazon's share — while still dominant — continued to slide.
Google has gradually expanded in European markets with its Google Home devices, and this year added Denmark, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain and Sweden. Amazon last year started selling its Alexa-powered smart speakers to more markets along with its Amazon Music Unlimited streaming service, per VentureBeat. The e-commerce giant in June started letting French customers order its Echo, Echo Dot and Echo Spot speakers that include a French version of Alexa. Amazon in March released an Alexa Skills Kit to French developers and device makers to urge them to create more software and products that work with its platform, per TechCrunch.
The worldwide smart home devices market is forecast to grow 26.8% this year to 549.5 million shipments, according to International Data Corporation. Smart speakers and video entertainment products like smart TVs and digital media adapters are expected to represent 71% of the market in 2018 and will see a compound annual growth rate of 12% from 2018 to 2022, the researcher forecast.