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Harman JBL Debuts First Smart Speakers With Simultaneous Alexa and Google Assistant Access

Harman has introduced the first smart speakers to allow simultaneous access to both Alexa and Google Assistant on the same device. Harman’s new JBL Authentics series of smart speakers allow users to activate either voice assistant with their respective wake words without first needing to designate one as the default.

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After registering with JBL’s app, Authentics owners can say either “Hey, Google” or “Alexa,” and the smart speaker will automatically alert the appropriate voice assistant. The idea is to remove limitations around which voice assistant the JBL speakers support and thus the prospective customer base. Cooperatively tearing down walled gardens, The smart speakers offer more versatility with their voice assistant interoperability. The Authentics series includes three model types. The 200 model is the smallest and cheapest at $330, while the portable 300 model costs $430, and the largest version, the 500 model, clocks in at $700.

“We’re thrilled to collaborate on the first simultaneous Google Assistant and Alexa speaker, so that users have the choice to engage with whichever voice assistant they’d like,” Google Assistant director Duke Dukellis said. “Google Assistant exists to save people time to focus on the things that matter most, and we know that many households have mixed voice assistant preferences and several devices. Now, with the new JBL Authentics speakers, users have access to some of the best features that Google Assistant and Alexa have to offer.”

Google and Amazon have both traveled toward more voice assistant interoperability in recent years. Both have adopted the Matter standard for smart home devices, a cross-company connectivity standard allowing their devices to connect with others on the Matter standard from other brands. Amazon also introduced Universal Device Commands (UDCs) and Agent Transfers (ATs) last year to simplify the process of embedding Alexa and other voice assistants in one device and improve customer experiences. Those features gave smart speakers the ability to respond to basic orders like ‘stop’ or ‘lower volume’ regardless of the wake word employed and pass commands Alexa couldn’t accomplish to a different voice assistant on the device, similar to how Alexa custom assistants work when embedded in non-Amazon devices.

“Amazon has long supported giving customers the freedom and convenience to use multiple assistants on a single device with our Voice Interoperability Initiative, and we’re delighted to make Alexa simultaneously available with Google Assistant on the new JBL Authentics speakers,” Amazon Alexa vice president Aaron Rubenson said. “This integration is a great industry-first collaboration to further assistant technology and we’re excited that this will enable more choice for JBL’s customers.”


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