Just in case you don't believe DISH and Google are getting closer these days, the satellite provider and new wireless services provider has introduced a Google-branded Voice Remote and brought Google Assistant to current Hopper receivers.
First, a software update has brought Google Assistant to Hopper receivers, letting fortunate owners access Google Assistant with their voice to change channels, ask the Assistant questions about the TV show or movie they're viewing, weather updates, restaurants nearby, control smart home devices to dim lights and adjust the thermostat, find out game scores, find out what time a certain show comes on, and more.
The new capabilities are additions to the DISH voice remote's abilities to search, find and select channels, and navigation functions. Current DISH customers with broadband internet can check their Hopper receiver for the update to their DISH voice remotes. Customers who do not have a voice remote can check to see if they qualify for a free Google-branded voice remote.
The new Google-branded Voice Remote comes with a Google-branded voice button that lets users access the search engine owner's AI, Google Assistant. DISH says that all current voice remotes, not just the new Google-branded remote, have Google Assistant support, but this is indicative of a growing partnership between DISH and Google. After all, if you're bringing Google Assistant to other DISH voice remotes without Google branding, why introduce a voice remote with Google branding for Google Assistant?
The additional Google branding is a sign that whispers about DISH-Google collaboration during the T-Mobile/Sprint merger weren't just rumors. Sources said then that DISH, once T-Mobile worked out a deal with the Department of Justice (DoJ), would acquire Sprint's Boost Mobile, Virgin Mobile, and Sprint Prepaid from T-Mobile's acquisition of parent company Sprint.
T-Mobile feared Google's entrance into talks with DISH because Google, paying T-Mobile and Sprint leasing fees, has been looking to own an independent wireless carrier for years. With DISH inheriting 9 million subscribers from Sprint (and thus, T-Mo), DISH has acquired a subscriber base that, with its spectrum, can lead to a fourth national carrier. Google has the financial resources to grow DISH's new 9-million subscriber base, 400 employees, and 7,500 retail outlets to something Sprint could've never imagined.
Rumors have said Google and DISH were in collaboration, though Google denied it in an earlier report. But the new Google-branded DISH voice remote signals that talks have finalized and that DISH and Google have struck a deal — though the announcement of that deal reached may be a few days in the future. DISH has always placed its branding on its voice remotes, never Google's, and it wouldn't place Google branding on its voice remotes now unless Google is becoming a new partner in its satellite/phone/wireless venture.
Google is the owner of its T-Mobile/Sprint/US Cellular MVNO, Google Fi. Once a project called "Project Fi," the success of the wireless carrier has moved the search engine giant and Android owner to take it out of "project" status and make it an official carrier. But with Google entering into a partnership with DISH, Google would no longer have to pay leasing fees to T-Mobile or Sprint.
Now that Sprint is part of the "New T-Mobile," the agreed-upon name for the new supercarrier, Google Fi will mandate all of Sprint's leasing fees to go to T-Mobile as well. T-Mobile CEO John Legere has already affirmed that, post-merger, all of the mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) agreements in place will remain.
This Google-branded Voice Remote debut comes just a few days after the T-Mobile/Sprint merger, which says that DISH and Google are entering into a new partnership, even as you're reading this sentence. Stay on the lookout for the big announcement between DISH and Google.