Roku partners with Google Assistant, delays their own Entertainment Assistant
Roku is bringing new features to its platform, one of which is to include the integration of Google Assistant in the coming weeks. The new feature will allow owners of Roku TVs and streaming players to search Roku for content, return to the home screen, launch specific streaming apps, and control playback (play pause, etc.) through voice commands using any Google Assistant-enabled device. Owners of RokuTV will be also be able to turn their TV off or on, adjust volume, change inputs, and even change channels if they also have an OTA antenna. The company also announced that they would be partnering with Spotify and Pandora Premium, meaning RokuTV users could use Google Assistant to control the volume and playback of their music, including paired Roku wireless speakers.
Where is Roku’s Entertainment Assistant?
This collaboration is a different news story than one would have expected from Roku this fall considering the company announced early this year that it was working on a voice assistant of its own, the Roku Entertainment Assistant. We wrote back in January that it was surprising that Roku had decided to embark on its own to create a voice assistant in-house, rather than pairing with an already existing voice assistant with a large user base. It seems Roku is now trying to do both, as the company claims to still be working on their own voice assistant, potentially launching some time in 2019.
While it makes sense that Roku would want its own entertainment-savvy voice assistant in order to further its market share of in-home entertainment, creating a competent voice assistant, even for a niche market like entertainment, takes a significant amount of time and resources. If Roku launched a less than capable version, users could get turned off and never ask the entertainment assistant anything ever again. However, waiting until your product is marketing ready and using the extremely capable Google Assistant has its flaws as well. Just ask Samsung Bixby. Users may never want to use anything else.