Google Assistant Debuts Character Alarms on Smart Displays

Google Character Alarms launched in the US on speaker devices in November 2018 and is now available on Nest Hub and other Google Assistant smart displays in the US and Canada. The Character Alarms setting replaces the standard alarm and UI that is preset on all assistant speakers and smart displays. To activate the feature, users simply have to say “Okay Google, set a Character Alarm,” and the Assistant will walk the user through setting up the feature.

Characters include Nickelodeon’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, three variations of LEGO and Hatchimal, each one featuring theme music and a distinct persona to motivate kids to get moving. However, there is little difference in the actual experience on the smart displays versus the smart speaker. The only additional value the smart speaker provides is the ability to see the character while the alarm goes off – there is no animation.

Entertainment Properties as a First-Party Service

This is yet another example of Google taking initiative to integrate entertainment directly into its voice assistant. Google announced a partnership with Disney last year which brought the company’s line of Golden Books to life by adding sound effects to the story as it was read aloud. Google then expanded its smart speaker storytelling feature to Android and iOs devices last month. But it’s not only entertainment for kids. Google also added pop culture icon John Legend as a limited voice option with commands like “Serenade me” and “Do you know Chrissy Tiegen?” to further add personality to its Google Assistant. Unlike Amazon’s Alexa, Google is not relying on entertainment companies to develop third-party apps to add engaging experiences to its platform. Instead, Google is actively seeking out collaborations with entertainment properties to create a more entertaining and engaging voice assistant for its users natively.

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