Assistant got a silent update with massive implications.
If you take a look at your Google Home app, down at the bottom of the “More settings” tab, you’ll see an option that wasn’t there after the last big update. Your Home app didn’t update while you were asleep, Google silently added the tab in preparation for something much bigger. In fact, it’s probably going to be the biggest single jab at Amazon’s Echo platform yet.
The new tab is “Payments”, and if you go through the brief set up process that follows tapping this new option you’ll see Google is preparing for something big.
it’s probably going to be the biggest single jab at Amazon’s Echo yet.
While Amazon has worked very hard to ensure it is nearly impossible to reach feature parity with the Alexa service overnight, there’s one huge thing Amazon will always have that no other company can easily compete with: commerce. Shopping through Amazon from your Echo is a unique experience, because so many people already have developed habits and preferred brands to order through Amazon. It’s an unparalleled convenience to say “Alexa, order more paper towels” and have the speaker respond with a confirmation from your last order followed by a confirmation that your shipment will arrive the next day. Amazon has even gone so far as to offer special deals and contests you can only participate in by shopping through Alexa, making it very easy for some to build that habit.
Google’s new Payments tab is a big first step at competing with the Amazon shopping experience because it ties directly into Google Express, a frequently overlooked online shopping experience that unifies products from dozens of different companies. Express makes it easy to order groceries, furniture, electronics, and a ton of other things at frequently discounted prices through a single service. If Google can turn this service into something convenient enough to use with just your voice, Assistant gains a huge competing point that is so frequently offered as a reason to buy Amazon’s connected tech instead.
It’s not clear how long it will take Google to fully roll out Express and make it something easy enough to use, but the intent here is clear. Google Home will absolutely try to offer a comparable shopping experience soon, and for many on the fence between Echo and Home this could be a very big deal.