Google’s First Car Accessory

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Anker Roav Bolt

In yet another sign that voice assistants are taking over infotainment, Google has teamed with accessory maker Anker Innovations to deliver the Roav Bolt, a mini “Google Home” that creates a Google Assistant for the car.

This is reportedly Google’s first car accessory.

Sales of smart speakers with voice assistants grew a staggering 800 percent over the last two years. And U.S. households will buy more than 64 million smart speakers in 2022, predicts Parks Associates. The craze migrating to the car.  Current “Get a Ford” TV ads feature Alexa-equipped radios as a leading enticement to buy a Ford.

To be clear, Google Assistant is already available with any Android Auto radio, and there’s an app for a smartphone, but the Roav Bolt offers a third alternative, a small device that plugs into a cigarette lighter.

Roav Bolt Google Assistant car
Roav Bolt

Knowledge is power, so we’re giving you the heads up. Plus Roav Bolt owners who get tired of a device hanging off the dash, may want to step up to an Android Auto car radio.

First announced at CES, and just now shipping, the $50 Roav Bolt has two USB ports along its side for charging a phone and it has an AUX jack to connect to a car radio.

Users can ask it for directions and it will launch Google Maps on their phones and start navigating.  It reads texts and launches music through the car’s sound system.

Reviews on the product are mixed.  Some wondered why not just get a phone mount and the Android Auto phone app. See The Verge and Engadget for full reviews.

To activate the Bolt you simply say “Hey Google” to wake the device or press a dedicated button.

The device uses far-field built-in microphones to hear your voice, even while music is blasting, said Google.

For now, the Roav Bolt only works with Android phones but an iOS version is due in beta form, said Google.

For more see Google’s blog here.

 

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3 Comments

  1. I guess I don’t get it. The device must pair to your phone to work. But all Android phones come with “Hey Google” voice commands right out of the box. No app download needed. No need to launch Android Auto. So what am I gaining exactly?

    1. You don’t need a car mount for your phone, just control the phone by voice and you don’t have to look at it. I believe that’s the advantage, but as some of the reviews say, you can also just buy a phone mount and get the same benefits, as you suggest.

      1. Thanks for the clarification. But I think most of us already have a car mount, or at least throw the phone in a cup holder. The reviews seem to think you must download Android Auto and install a new mount to get the Hey Google features. Heck, how about a mount that plugs into the cig lighter?! Boom! Same difference! The reviews also point out a huge caveat: “since the Roav Bolt relies on your car’s Bluetooth or AUX port, you won’t have access to the rest of your car’s infotainment system.” So no CD, FM, Sat Radio, etc while you’re using this piece. That’s ridiculous. Let’s make something 3% easier to use, while making HUGE sacrifices.

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