Amazon stumbled upon a good idea when it launched the Echo Show last year. Even though it's just an Echo speaker with a screen (and despite the YouTube functionality being removed), it has enjoyed moderate success and currently sits a 4.5-star average rating on Amazon. Now Google has unveiled its competitor - Google Assistant for smart screens.
For months, it looked like Google was preparing its own Echo Show-like device, codenamed 'Quartz.' That name appeared multiple times in APK teardowns, and it was very clear the device would be like an Echo Show. Now it's official, but rather than one device, Quartz appears to be a software platform for other OEMs to use.
Google Assistant on smart screens can show the weather, display your calendar, find directions on Google Maps, guide you through cooking, show pictures from Google Photos, play YouTube videos, and more. Google says that four companies will be building smart displays with Assistant - JBL, Lenovo, LG, and Sony - with more coming soon. These devices will also have Google Cast built-in, so they work like Chromecasts. The only smart screen announced so far is Lenovo's Smart Display.
The Google Assistant interface runs on top of Android Things, the company's version of Android designed for Internet-Of-Things (IoT) devices. While Android Things is still in Developer Preview, Google will release a long-term support version sometime this year, which will presumably be used by these smart displays.