CES 2019: The Highlight Reel
Visionaries are creating the future every day, and there was no shortage of cutting-edge technologies at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES). Each year, nearly all the world’s tech manufacturers come together at CES to unveil the biggest technology trends and concepts for the year ahead. From wearables to smart home technology, concept cars, laptops and a myriad of other big tech promises, CES sparks the imaginations of many with some of the coolest gadgets available.
CES is all about hyped-up tech and buzzwords, so this article recaps four of the most noteworthy announcements that break the hype and are relevant in the current mobile app development landscape.
Go Big, or Go Google
CES is an important arena for Google to push its technologies and devices to consumers, especially with competition like Apple, Samsung, and Amazon. Google made some serious noise at CES last year, so it was only natural for the tech giant to outdo themselves at this year’s show.
Starting with a bang, Google announced partnerships with Samsung, Lenovo, and McAfee to promote new Google Assistant integrations, and it’s through strategic partnerships, that Google was able to announce that its assistant will be in 1 billion devices by the end of January. From new smart clocks to translation tools, Google dominated this year’s show.
Last Tuesday, at the concierge desk at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas, Google performed the latest trick for Google Assistant: Interpreter Mode. Google Assistant’s Interpreter mode is a bridge between languages and allows people who don’t speak the same language to communicate effortlessly in real time. In the near future, consumers can expect Google Interpreter to pop up on smart displays including Google’s own Home Hub, as well as displays made by Google partners like Lenovo, LG, and JBL. The software supports 27 languages, recites voice input out lout, and displays text on-screen.
This year at CES, consumers saw a lot of Google-powered IoT products including a smart alarm clock from Lenovo, smart speakers from Sonos, Samsung TV compatibility, and even products from KitchenAid. It’s clear that Google isn’t holding back in the battle for voice technology.
Lenovo Smart Clock
Google and Lenovo came together this year to debut the Lenovo Smart Clock. This alarm clock is strong enough to take a few punches when you’re not ready to wake up, but also smart enough to trigger a personalized “Good Morning” routine through Google Assistant when you need the extra push to get moving. Essentially, the Lenovo Smart Clock responds to all the same voice commands as a Google Home device but does not display photos, video, or a pull-up smart home control center. The smart clock is a sleek device, condensed to display only the information someone needs when they’re waking up or going to sleep.
Sonos One and Beam Speakers
Google also announced that Sonos’ smart speakers will support Google Assistant – soon. Sonos is still only previewing the beta launch to its users, and there was no word at CES when an update will be available to all users. At the show, Sonos’ exhibited Google Assistant capabilities for playing music, adjusting volume, connecting to TVs with Chromecast, and playing movies through the speakers.
Samsung TV Capability
Sometime this year, Samsung TVs will be equipped to interact with voice commands through Google Assistant. Users will be able to control their TVs in a number of ways including turning them on and off, changing channels, adjusting the volume, and even launching apps.
Smart speakers have been able to interact with TVs for a few years now and several brands like LG and Sony offer built-in voice remotes to trigger an on-screen search, but Samsung isn’t handing that capability over to Google. Samsung’s voice remote commands will be reserved for Bixby, the company’s own digital assistant. However, Bixby will need some work. In 2019, Samsung is promising improved responsiveness and more natural conversational interface for users.
KitchenAid Smart Display
Google partnerships were everywhere this year. The search giant even partnered up with Whirlpool to deliver a voice-powered touchscreen from KitchenAid. This is the first-ever appearance from KitchenAid at CES, and the brand was well-received by the crowd. The water-resistant smart display really got people talking and consumers can expect to see the product released in the second half of 2019.
Apple Decides to Show Up – Sort of
Apple has never made an official appearance at CES, and this year was no different, but that didn’t stop them from generating buzz. With heavy hitters like Google, Amazon, and Samsung all pulling out full stops at the show, Apple needed to generate some attention of their own, and while they didn’t even hold a press event, or even show up for that matter, they let their partners extend the reach of their coverage.
At CES 2019, consumers learned through the grapevine that Apple will be letting TV partners like LG and Vizio access AirPlay and HomeKit frameworks. On top of that, 2019 Samsung TVs will have iTunes built in. It’s actually no surprise that Apple decided to leak some information at CES this year because the tech company is going to have to make nice with consumer brands to promote their much-anticipated video streaming service.
To keep pace with Google and Amazon, Apple is going to have to amp up their services game, and it would be a poor strategy to keep their video-streaming services exclusive to Apple devices. To win over customers, Apple is going to have to make their services more widely available to the public, and having more brands like LG, Vizio, and Sony announce their plans to include Apple integrations is a great way to start.
For a show founded on buzz-worthiness, it’s natural the term 5G was going to be floating around – a lot. With all the talk of 5G, it’s safe to say it’s still just rumours. Most carriers still don’t have any 5G services available yet, and delivering the hyped-up performance enhancements of 5G will require a dramatically different architecture and vastly denser networks.
Samsung, however, announced they will be releasing a 5G smartphone in the summer of 2019. The key marketable feature of this phone is it’s able to connect to both LTE and 5G networks, and that’s what consumers can expect in the foreseeable future; 5G will primarily focus on enhancing existing LTE networks instead of replacing them.
Although 5G was a major talking point at CES this year, the mobile industry is still working on the less glamorous aspects of the technology. Many major 5G deployment enterprises won’t occur until at least 2020. Many operators will begin planning 5G rollouts in micro-markets rather than taking the traditional approach of deploying in developed markets. 5G pilot trials are going to continue to make headlines, but the industry still has a long way to go before consumers see any large-scale implementation.
What’s New From Samsung?
CES is a big stage for Samsung. This year, Samsung brought TVs, robots, an improved Bixby, and an iTunes partnership to its product lineup, but also announced the release of the Samsung Galaxy 10 coming this February.
The Better Bixby
With the voice landscape as competitive as it is, Samsung needed to give Bixby an upgrade. Soon, apps like Google Maps and Gmail will be compatible with the digital assistant, but more importantly, Samsung is working on enhanced capability between the digital assistant and the brand’s smart home products. Overall, Samsung is investing $22 billion in artificial intelligence budgeted for making all of its products compatible with Bixby.
Roll Out the Robots
This year, Samsung introduced four new robots to help with different types of tasks. The first robot Samsung showcased was Samsung Bot Care which is used to monitor a user’s health and vital signs. The purpose of Samsung Bot Care is to help elderly users gain more independence by tracking their own health or let their families check in on their wellbeing from a distance. Samsung’s other robots include Samsung Bot Air, Samsung Bot Retail, and Samsung GEMS. The Bot Air is able to detect pollution and purify the air, Bot Retail personalizes the retail experience for users, and GEMS is a wearable bot that a user wears on their legs to help with rehabilitation, increase mobility, or help athletes train.
The Wrap Up
After all the live demos, and all the press exhibits, we believe the announcements above are the most relevant in today’s existing tech environment. Of all the amazing and quirky gadgets on display, voice technology still seems to be the dominating theme year over year. But is it enough? Google or Alexa assistant integrations are rapidly moving past novelty status into a default standard, and it’s more than clear that heavy hitters in the voice arena are pushing the technology past mobile. It will be interesting to see what comes out the Mobile World Congress next month. Stay tuned!