Google has shown off a JBL Link Bar at Google I/O. During the demo, it revealed new Android TV and Assistant features.
This new soundbar features built-in Android TV and Google Home capabilities. But, according to Android Police, which saw the unit during a private demo, one of the more interesting features it offers is active overlay support. Android TV currently doesn't offer a "native" control experience for your TV, which means you can't ask Assistant to, for instance, switch inputs if you're not on the Android TV output.
The Link Bar streamlines that mess, because it can show a Google Assistant overlay while also displaying your input from, say, a PlayStation 4. In other words, while you're gaming, you'll be able to use the soundbar to cue up Google Assistant on any of the JBL's three HDMI inputs. You can then use it to switch between inputs (you're even able to custom name them), and you can ask Assistant questions like normal.
The Android TV aspect will be able to detect public device names over the HDMI connection, too, which means it will essentially enable voice control over all your connected devices. Unfortunately, Google didn't share any other details to Android Police, like the amount of storage the Link Bar comes with or if it supports 4K60. We suspect we'll hear more about these details at Google I/O later today.
- What is Google Assistant and how does it work?
- What are Google Home, Home Max, and Home Mini?
- What is Android TV and how does it work?
Google I/O is where we learn about what the company has planned for the next year. Google uses the event to get the developer community up to speed with any new hardware it is developing and all the software or updates it plans to push out to products. This gives developers a chance to get their own apps, services, integrations, and tie-ins ready before Google rolls out its stuff. However, consumers love to watch, too.
This year's keynote starts at 10am PST (1pm EST/6pm BST) on 8 May. You can watch the official live-stream or read all about what Google officially announced or demoed during the show from here. For more details about what Google's been up to lately, see below:
- Wear OS: Your complete guide to Google's smartwatch OS
- Android 8.0 Oreo: Everything you need to know about Google's latest OS
- Google Fuchsia OS: What's the story so far?
- New Google Pixel 2018: Everything you need to know
- What is Android Things and when will the first devices arrive?
- What is Google Lens and how do you use it?
- Gmail 2018 update: All the new features and how to get them now