JBL is bringing Google Assistant everywhere this year, from speakers to soundbars, displays, headphones, and more. The latest addition to its line-up, the JBL Link Drive, is meant to help you use Google Assistant while driving, but without taking your eyes off the road or fiddling with your phone.
Like several similar products we've already seen with Alexa, the Link Drive uses your phone as the main connection for Assistant, but it's always-on and listening, and it has dual noise-cancelling microphones to improve recognition even if your car window is down or your environment is noisy. The Drive will also quiet music and radio when you say "Ok Google," just like Google Assistant speakers already do around the house. This should help it better listen to you.
The Link Drive plugs into your 12V cigarette lighter socket, and can pair with both your phone and your car's Bluetooth (via BT 4.2) if it's supported. If not, you can plug it in with an Aux cable. Availability is slated for spring of 2019, with a retail price of $59.95.
JBL® Takes the LINK Series on the Road with JBL LINK Drive: Bringing the Google Assistant to Vehicles
JBL LINK Drive® is a car accessory optimized with the Google Assistant technology that improves voice interactions between smartphones and drivers on-the-road
CES 2019, LAS VEGAS – JANUARY 7, 2019 – JBL welcomes the latest addition to its LINK series with Drive, a device optimized with the Google Assistant, engineered specifically for automobiles. The JBL LINK Drive brings the Google Assistant on Android or Apple smartphones into the car for a seamless experience, allowing drivers to easily stay connected, get directions, and find information on-the-go with just their voice.
Whether accessing music or asking the Google Assistant to locate the nearest gas station or restaurant, the JBL LINK Drive solution makes it easy for drivers to operate voice assistant controls, while keeping their hands on the wheel and eyes on the road. With a simple “Hey Google” voice command, motorist can ask for directions, traffic conditions, weather, or calendar updates without needing to interact with or unlock their phones.
The JBL LINK Drive device is outfitted with dual noise cancelling microphones to mitigate road, wind, engine and general driving sounds that may interfere with voice commands on a standard phone. It’s also programmed with Radio Barging technology, allowing drivers to listen to the radio as desired but will quiet when it detects a voice command with “Hey Google.” Once the request is finalized, content from the radio will resume. This feature also works with incoming phone calls, allowing automobilists to have a safe, hands-free conversation without noise inference.
“Market research shows there is a low engagement rate of motorists using voice activation technology in cars. We’re finding drivers often experience poor performance with their smartphones due to all the noises inside their vehicle and on the road,” said Jeffery Fay, Vice President and General Manager Car Audio Services, Harman. “The JBL LINK Drive addresses these sound interruptions through innovative noise cancelling technology, providing a convenient, smarter, and improved user experience. Whether it’s reading texts aloud, playing music or finding an alternate route, it’s more convenient to let the Google Assistant handle the task at hand, especially when driving.”
To set-up the JBL LINK Drive, drivers simply plug the device into a 12V socket (cigarette lighter) or auxiliary outlet and pair their iOS or Android smartphone to the Google App installed. For vehicles equipped with built-in Bluetooth, JBL LINK Drive will sync with both the smartphone in use and the car stereo system. For cars without Bluetooth, drivers can set up the LINK Drive through the auxiliary outlet to connect with the cars existing speakers.
JBL LINK Drive Features
- Multi-Function Key
- Short press - push-to-talk redundancy
- Long press to mute microphone
- 2.1 Amp USB charging
- Auto pairing through the Google Assistant app
- Auto re-connect
- Multi-phone memory
- Bluetooth 4.2
Pricing and Availability
JBL LINK Drive will be available on JBL.com and select retailers starting Spring 2019 for $59.95.