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Google’s answer to Amazon’s screen-touting Echo Show and Echo Spot launched earlier this year: Android Things-powered devices made by third-party partners like Lenovo, LG, Sony, and JBL and imbued with Google Assistant capabilities and smart displays. (We reviewed the first, the Lenovo Smart Display, in July.) But if rumors are to be believed, the Mountain View company is prepping a first-party product for a reveal later this year.
Google will launch a “smart speaker equipped with a display” in time for this year’s holiday season, industry sources told Nikkei. According to 9to5Google, the firm’s first smart display will sport a front-facing camera, two microphones, a screen “inline or larger” than the Lenovo Smart Display’s 10-inch LCD panel, and potentially a battery. It’ll reportedly support the standard array of Google Assistant commands, such as “play a YouTube video” or “shuffle my music,” and will be fabricated in Taiwan by Pegatron, one of Apple’s manufacturing partners.
Details are otherwise scarce right now, but Nikkei said that Google has ambitious rollout goals for the upcoming speaker, with plans to ship “some  million units” in the months following its unveiling.
If the company were to meet those goals, it’d far outpace competitors in the screen-equipped speaker market. Amazon managed to ship only 315,000 Echo Show units last year, according to research firm Canalys.
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So far, Google’s homegrown Google Home lineup has consisted exclusively of voice-controlled products. The Google Home — first out of the gate in November 2016 — complements the Google Home Mini, the more compact and affordable speaker that debuted in October 2017. On the high end, there’s the Google Home Max, a premium $400 bookshelf speaker with audio inputs and self-calibrating soundstage tech.
Speakers can only do so much, of course. In our review of the Lenovo Smart Display, we found its smart suggestions — follow-up questions that surface at the bottom of the screen — incredibly handy. Being able to visualize apps such as Google Translate, Allrecipes, and Maps made navigating them a whole lot easier, and we especially like the ease with which the speaker switched between apps like YouTube and Google Photos.
Google certainly has momentum on its side — it shipped an estimated 5.4 million smart speakers in Q2 2018, besting Amazon for the second quarter in a row — but time will tell whether it can translate that success into a new form factor.
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