The Google Assistant officially began its Android TV expansion by hitting the second-generation NVIDIA SHIELD TV, the Alphabet-owned company announced on Thursday, promising that more compatible devices are set to receive its digital companion in the near future. Sony-made Bravia TVs will get access to the Google Assistant in the next few months and while Google didn't specifically elaborate on the matter, it's possible that only the models released this year are to benefit from the service. The tech giant suggested that the availability of the Google Assistant on Android TV-enabled devices should significantly enhance the overall experience of the platform, allowing users to access content in a maximally convenient manner, relying only on their own voices.
The Google Assistant is presently being distributed to NVIDIA SHIELD TV units as part of a standard over-the-air (OTA) update which is rolling out in stages and requires users to manually confirm its installation before bringing their firmware up to the version 6.0. Once the new software package is downloaded and installed on your device, the NVIDIA SHIELD TV will automatically restart and start supporting the artificial intelligence service after it boots back up. To use the Google Assistant on the NVIDIA SHIELD TV, simply press the microphone button on your remote control and start issuing commands to the companion. Alternatively, you're able to use the "OK Google" wake phrase to activate the Google Assistant when your device is turned on and you're relatively close to your remote.
The service is presently only being rolled out in the United States, though other markets where the NVIDIA SHIELD TV is commercially available may also receive it shortly. The Mountain View, California-based internet giant is commemorating the latest milestone in its consumer-oriented AI efforts by offering users three months of YouTube Red subscription free of charge. This particular deal is technically a trial period so you may not be eligible for it if you already had a YouTube Red trial in the last year or so, though neither Google nor NVIDIA explicitly said that as of this writing.
The Google Assistant for the NVIDIA SHIELD TV is virtually identical to the one you can use on the Google Home and your smartphone, providing you with the ability to issue orders to your Internet of Things devices and interact with the platform in other ways like asking it questions or requesting weather and news reports. Coupled with a large screen to which your NVIDIA SHIELD TV is connected to, the feature has the potential to transform one's smart TV experience, Google suggested. In practice, the Google Assistant will manifest itself in the form of a relatively thin strip located at the bottom of your TV interface, providing you with answers to your questions or responses to your commands that it will also read out loud, thus acting similarly to how it does on other compatible Android and iOS handsets.
In addition to the immediate availability of the Google Assistant on the NVIDIA SHIELD TV, today marks the beginning of the pre-order period for the Samsung SmartThings Link, a USB stick which can be plugged into NVIDIA's set-top box and turn it into a Samsung SmartThings IoT hub. The dongle can be pre-ordered from Amazon by following the banner below and is available for $39.99 together with free shipping for Amazon Prime subscribers. No firm release date for the gadget has yet been provided by the Santa Clara, California-based tech giant, with the product's Amazon listing only stating that it should start shipping to consumers within a month or two, so you should expect it to arrive by this year's holiday season. The product still isn't listed on any European or other Amazon stores though it's expected to eventually make its way to the Old Continent.
The new development marks the latest major achievement in Google's endeavor to expand the availability of the Google Assistant to as many devices as possible. The AI service recently officially debuted in the wireless headphones segment with the Bose QuietComfort 35 II and is also soon set to make its way to the Nest Cam IQ. Likewise, the firm's first-party portfolio of Google Assistant-enabled devices should be ennobled in the coming days as at least one new Google Home-series speaker is rumored to be announced on October 4th. Android Auto and Chrome OS are yet to receive their own versions of the Google Assistant, though the company is reportedly already working on those services and should debut them in the near future.