Google Assistant and Telefonica’s Aura Voice Assistant May Both Be on New Movistar Home Device
Spain may be the first country to have access to a multi-assistant smart speaker-like device. Isaac Hernández, director of Google Enterprise for Spain and Portugal spoke with VozPopuli about the initiative to have both Google Assistant and Telefonica’s Aura voice assistant on the forthcoming Movistar Home, a smart display that resembles Amazon Echo Show. The publication Telecompaper translated Mr. Hernández’s comments as saying:
We are talking with Telefonica and other operators to integrate both Google Home and our voice assistant Google Assistant into their customer offer…It makes sense for solutions of this type to be interoperable.
Movistar Home is a Smart Display for Telefonica Customers
In February, Telefonica demonstrated access to Aura through Google Assistant on a smart phone. Telefonica began showcasing its new Movistar Home smart display earlier this week in a Barcelona store. The device looks almost identical to an Amazon Echo show and takes advantage of both voice interaction and a touchscreen display. However, Telefonica does not allow third-party apps to be used through Aura today. That is where Google Assistant could become a powerful complement.
Users will be able to access Telefonica services such as television programming and smart home security through the device which is expected to go on sale to the public in September. If the Google Assistant integration is added, users will also be able to access features similar to a Google Home smart speaker which first went on sale in Spain in late June. This would greatly expand the features of Movistar Home beyond entertainment and security. It also could create another reason for consumers to purchase Google Home smart speakers for their home as they standardize on a voice assistant beyond in-home entertainment. It appears that Google Home will not initially be able to control any of the Movistar Home entertainment features, but that is an obvious extension for voice-only interactions.
Integrating Multiple Assistants Proves Difficult
Movistar Home is not the first device to attempt integration of multiple voice assistants. Amazon and Microsoft demonstrated integration of Alexa and Cortana through Echo smart speakers and PCs in May. In the smart speaker use case, Alexa was the dominant voice assistant and the user needed to ask Alexa for access to Cortana. The reverse was true on the PC. Sonos has reportedly struggled with enabling Alexa and Google Assistant as co-equal voice assistants on its Sonos One smart speaker. Having both Assistants listening for their wake word and ready for action has turned out to be more complex than many people expected.
Given this challenge, the most likely scenario for Movistar Home is that Aura will be dominant and users will need to ask it for access to Google Assistant. However, even that may not be available at the device’s fall launch. Discussions about integration are not actually integration. The advantage for Google and Telefonica is that they already enable a Google Assistant to Aura integration on smartphones and the Movistar Home device would simply need to reverse the user access process.