Google at work on Amazon Echo-like voice device codenamed ‘Chirp’

A special Google team is reportedly developing a device that would integrate its search and voice assistant technology, much like the Amazon Echo.

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Physically the product should resemble the company’s OnHub Wi-Fi routers, sources told Re/code. The project is said to be codenamed “Chirp,” although it’s not known if a shipping name has been assigned.

The device isn’t expected to launch during next week’s Google I/O developer conference, but should arrive later this year. No other details have been leaked.

On a business level, the product is speculated to be a way for Google to further extend search, and by extension how it gathers demographic data for its core advertising business. Amazon is also estimated to have sold some 3 million Echos, which could make Google’s entry more directly profitable.

The Echo line revolves around Amazon’s “Alexa” voice assistant, which handles tasks like search, music playback, product/service orders, and smarthome functions. Google’s device would presumably handle similar tasks, with the benefit of the company’s more established voice and search technology. Alexa is a relatively new creation, and uses Microsoft’s less popular Bing service for search.

Apple, of course, offers its own Siri voice-based personal assistant. And while newer devices offer handsfree “Hey Siri” support without the need for external power, Apple does not offer a standalone, always-listening piece of hardware to compete with the likes of Amazon’s Echo.

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