It seems that Google is taking another page from Amazon and prepping a smart speaker with a built-in display. Amazon already offers such a thing—the Echo Show, which ups the ante from Amazon's other Echo products by allowing users to make video calls and see content on the screen, as opposed to just hearing it. Google's answer, codenmaed "Manhattan," would offer similar functionality.
The smart home speaker market is bristling with competitors trying to replicate the success that Amazon has had with its Echo line. Google is among them—it launched its voice-activated Google Home smart speaker last year, and while it trails the Alexa-powered Echo in overall functionality, updates to the device have added features over time. However, it does not have a display like the newer Echo Show.
Google is said to be working on a competitor to Amazon's Echo Show (shown above), which could debut this year.
Google's competitive offering is said to have a similar display size as the 7-inch Echo Show, according to the two sources that TechCrunch spoke with. One of the sources chirping about the product claims to have spoken directly with a Google employee. And both sources say the device will integrate YouTube functionality, Google Assistant, Google Photos, and of course video calling. The device will also serve as a command center for Nest and other smart home products.
The integration of YouTube could be a key distinguishing factor. Google earlier this week started blocking YouTube from working on the Echo Show, saying that Amazon's implementation ran afoul of its terms of service.
"We’ve been in negotiations with Amazon for a long time, working towards an agreement that provides great experiences for customers on both platforms. Amazon’s implementation of YouTube on the Echo Show violates our terms of service, creating a broken user experience. We hope to be able to reach an agreement and resolve these issues soon," Google said in a statement.
The plot thickens with Google working on an Echo Home competitor. According to Amazon, YouTube was removed "without explanation and without notification to customers." Google has been protective of how YouTube functions on third-party devices in the past, though in this case, the timing seems a little bit suspect.
Google was originally planning to launch its smart hub sometime next year, but with the Echo Show already on the market, it is feeling the heat to release it in 2017. It will be interesting to see if Google mentions the device during its press event on October 4.